Gov. David Ige signed a bill Monday providing $5.1 million to the Department of Public Safety to repair the damage caused during a March riot at the Maui Community Correctional Center.
House Bill 456, now Act 33, also gives the department $2 million to house 248 Halawa Correctional Facility inmates at the private Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona for six months. That appropriation also covers the transportation costs to bring the inmates back home.
Both of the appropriations will come from state general funds.
At MCCC, a string of disturbances caused by inmates who were disgruntled with the living conditions led to damages to doors, windows, toilets and fire sprinklers in the jail modules.
The bill states that the funds will also be used to cover fees for consultants who assessed the damages.
“The cost to repair the extensive damage exceeds the funds available in the department of public safety’s budget,” lawmakers wrote in the preamble to HB 456.
Shortly after the riot, Pubic Safety Director Nolan Espinda said that dissatisfaction with the jail’s overcrowded conditions was at least one of the causes. Since then, a total of 37 pre-trial detainees at MCCC who were believed to be involved in the riots were transferred to Halawa.
The Halawa prison now houses 23 detainees from the Maui jail, according to department spokeswoman Toni Schwartz.
An internal investigation by DPS was launched shortly after the riot, and the Maui Police Department also started a criminal investigation. Both investigations are ongoing, Schwartz said in an email.
The $5.1 million in general funds is in addition to another $8 million worth of bond financing lawmakers included in the state’s capital improvements budget for long-term improvements at MCCC.
Lawmakers also included $6 million in general obligation bonds over the next two years to cover deferred maintenance at all DPS facilities statewide.
Ige included $29.7 million in 2020 and $23 million in 2021 for DPS in his capital improvements request to the Legislature. Lawmakers authorized a total $29 million over both years.
The appropriation pales in comparison to the maintenance backlog for Hawaii’s jails and prisons, which now totals more than $541.9 million worth of needed repairs, according to a statewide report on deferred maintenance. That includes $32.5 million worth of upgrades the facilities need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act as a result of an audit from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Meanwhile, 248 other Halawa inmates have been moved to the mainland due to delays in renovations at Halawa.
More than 1,400 Hawaii inmates are housed at the Saguaro Correctional Center, according to an April count.
This is the fourth year in a row that lawmakers have provided additional funds for relocating inmates due to delays with the renovations, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. Housing expenses related to delays have cost taxpayers more than $16 million to date.
Stay Up To Date On The Coronavirus And Other Hawaii Issues
Not a subscription
Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service.
That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.
Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.
Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell