Rui Kaneya – Honolulu Civil Beat https://www.civilbeat.org Honolulu Civil Beat - Investigative Reporting Wed, 24 Apr 2019 02:37:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 Trump Immigration Plans Would Hit Hawaii’s Filipino Families Hard https://www.civilbeat.org/2018/01/trump-immigration-plans-would-hit-hawaiis-filipino-families-hard/ Wed, 10 Jan 2018 10:01:14 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1263662 During his first year in office, President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked what he calls “chain migration,” a term that loosely refers to any legal immigration based on family ties to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. In Trump’s telling, chain migration — a bedrock of the U.S. immigration system for decades — poses an […]

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During his first year in office, President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked what he calls “chain migration,” a term that loosely refers to any legal immigration based on family ties to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

In Trump’s telling, chain migration — a bedrock of the U.S. immigration system for decades — poses an untenable risk to the national security. He has called it “a total disaster” and has even linked it to a December terrorist attack inside a New York City subway station.

In Hawaii, Trump’s disdain for chain migration has a particular resonance: The state is home to hundreds of thousands of Filipino immigrants who — along with Mexicans, Dominicans and Chinese — heavily rely on family-based immigration.

Among them is Victor Gonzales, a 46-year-old who moved to Hawaii in 2011.

Victor Gonzales, a Filipino immigrant and labor organizer, waited 20 years for a green card that allowed him and his children to move to Hawaii.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Born in Batangas province and raised in Manila, Gonzales waited 20 years for a green card that his ex-wife’s American family petitioned for him and his five children. Shortly after his arrival, he landed a housekeeping job at The Modern Honolulu hotel and now works with UNITE HERE Local 5 to help organize fellow hotel workers.

“It took so long that I thought it would never happen,” said Gonzales, who plans to petition for three of his siblings to immigrate here once he becomes a U.S. citizen. “We were really dreaming about it, and it’s everybody’s dream to live here in America.”

In many ways, Filipino immigrants like Gonzales are the face of family-based immigration in Hawaii — and one of the driving forces behind the exponential growth of the state’s Filipino community in recent decades.

According to the 2016 Census, Filipinos in Hawaii number about 209,000 and constitute 14 percent of the state’s population. About a decade ago, they overtook the Japanese as the state’s largest ethnic minority.

According to census figures, nearly 122,000 Filipinos are immigrants, making up 46.4 percent of the state’s foreign-born population.

Gonzales finds it unfathomable that Trump is trying to divide families.

“Why would you not allow a family to reunite?” Gonzales said. “We come here and work hard because we know this is an opportunity. This is what we waited for; this is what we dreamed for. It’s not that we come here just to become a drain on society, to make a mess.”

Pushing For Reform

On Tuesday, Trump held a rare, televised negotiating session with a bipartisan group of lawmakers. In exchange for what he called a “bill of love” that would protect from deportation young immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children, Trump insisted on funding for a border wall and cuts to legal immigration — including reducing family-based immigration.

Trump wants Congress to revamp the U.S. immigration system to shift from “family-based” to “merit-based,” describing the former as “a policy where the wrong people are allowed into our country and the right people are rejected.”

chain migration, Donald Trump, White House, immigration

In a televised negotiating session with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Tuesday, President Donald Trump insisted on funding for a border wall and cuts to legal immigration — including reducing family-based immigration.

C-SPAN

To advance his vision, Trump has endorsed the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, a measure introduced by two Republican immigration hardliners, U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.

The primary aim of the RAISE Act is to dramatically reduce legal immigration — from about 1 million people a year to a little over 500,000.

Under the bill, U.S. citizens and permanent residents would still be allowed to bring in spouses and minor children. But it would eliminate the nearly 140,000 green cards set aside for adult children and siblings of U.S. citizens, as well as the unlimited number of visas currently available to parents of U.S. citizens.

The bill would hold the number of employment-based green cards at 140,000, but the system used to select people for them would be replaced with a “points” system, in which applicants earn points for factors such as education, financial security and job skills.

Only immigrants who can meet a certain threshold would be eligible to come.

According to Cotton and Perdue, the bill would reduce legal immigration from slightly more than a million to about 640,000 in the first year and to less than 540,000 by the 10th year.

Trump has hailed the bill as representing the “biggest change in 50 years” to the U.S. immigration system and reflecting his “compassion for struggling American families that deserve an immigrant system that puts their needs first.”

Still, the bill has a mountain to climb for its passage: It would need the support of every Republican and nine Democrats in the Senate — a daunting count, especially in an election year.

Deep Roots In Hawaii

In Hawaii, the effect of reducing family-based immigration would likely be heavily felt, at least in the short term, in the Filipino community — the state’s fasting growing ethnic minority, primarily because of migration.

The Filipino community traces its roots back to 1906 when 15 “sakadas” were recruited by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association to work on the sugar cane plantations. But the floodgates opened up in 1965 when Congress replaced national quotas with the current system that emphasizes family reunification.

Filipinos have since arrived in droves, transforming the community on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder in Hawaii into one that wields a growing political influence — ushering Ben Cayetano into the governor’s mansion in 1994 and producing a number of state and county lawmakers.

But the influx of Filipinos could dramatically slow down, if Trump has his way.

John Egan, a Honolulu immigration attorney who once chaired the Hawaii chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, says the disproportionate impact on Filipinos, as well as others who heavily rely on family-based immigration — Mexicans, Dominicans, Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese — isn’t coincidental.

“Chain migration was never a problem when Europeans were the ones coming in; it’s only a problem now for white folks who don’t want so many dark folks coming in,” Egan said. “In many real ways, the argument against chain migration is a smoke screen for promoting a racialist migration policy.”

Clement Bautista

Standing in front of a replica of houses for Filipino workers at Hawaii’s Plantation Village, Clement Bautista believes the influx of Filipino immigrants will continue, even if “chain migration” is ended.

Rui Kaneya/Civil Beat

Federico Magdalena, associate director of the Center for Philippine Studies at the University of Hawaii, says ending family-based immigration could also mean that the U.S. won’t be able to attract highly skilled immigrants to fill labor shortages.

Magdalena points out that Filipinos, many of whom are recruited for in-demand fields like nursing in the U.S., might decide to move to other countries with immigrant-friendly policies. “The U.S. could find itself becoming the second choice for many of these professionals,” he said.

Still, Clement Bautista, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services at the University of Hawaii, says the level of Filipino immigration will likely remain steady in the long run, as more people who would have otherwise relied on family-based immigration turn to employment-based visas to come to the U.S.

“They’ll figure out a way to keep coming in,” said Bautista, a board member of the Filipino Community Center.

“It’s going to be more trained skilled workers — many of them are college educated and are more willing to work lower-paid jobs than Hawaii residents. As Hawaii residents leave here for higher-paying jobs elsewhere, Filipinos will come in to fill those jobs.”

For his part, Gonzales says he might start organizing fellow Filipino immigrants to protest any move by the Trump administration to reduce family-based immigration.

“The Filipino tradition — it’s very much about the family and keeping it intact. What Trump is doing breaks that tradition,” Gonzales said. “He’s dividing families, and I would tell my countrymen that, ‘Hey, we have to mobilize and we have to fight against it.'”

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Audit: Hawaii Needs To Get Its Act Together In Responding To Outbreaks https://www.civilbeat.org/2017/12/audit-hawaii-needs-to-get-its-act-together-in-responding-to-outbreaks/ Fri, 29 Dec 2017 10:01:44 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1262604 State Auditor Les Kondo is sounding alarms over how the Hawaii Department of Health responds to disease outbreaks, citing the lack of a communication plan and consistent processes for internal reviews and record keeping. In a 40-page report released Thursday, Kondo warns that the deficiencies could result in the lack of accountability, missed investigative steps […]

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State Auditor Les Kondo is sounding alarms over how the Hawaii Department of Health responds to disease outbreaks, citing the lack of a communication plan and consistent processes for internal reviews and record keeping.

In a 40-page report released Thursday, Kondo warns that the deficiencies could result in the lack of accountability, missed investigative steps and possible delays in response to future outbreaks.

The report reviewed how the department’s Disease Outbreak Control Division — which investigates diseases “declared to be communicable or dangerous to the public health” — responded to three recent outbreaks: dengue fever, hepatitis A infections from tainted scallops and salmonella infections from tainted ogo.

Vector inspector Eileen Passos inspects a drain located around the perimeter of the parking lot at the King Kamehameha Hotel. Kailua Kona, Hawaii.

Vector inspector Eileen Passos inspects a drain located around the perimeter of the parking lot at the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua Kona during the dengue fever outbreak in 2015.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

First reported in October 2015, the dengue fever outbreak lasted for nearly five months and sickened nearly 270 people. The hepatitis A outbreak, which was traced to frozen scallops imported from the Philippines and served raw at Genki Sushi, infected 292 people in 2016. And the salmonella outbreak, which originated from an Oahu seaweed growing operation, sickened 15 people late last year.

The report found that the department had no “formal communications plan” to guide the timing of its initial public announcements about the outbreaks and clarify what it should share with other state and county agencies.

The report also faulted the department for not being consistent in conducting “end-of-outbreak reviews, debriefs or after-action reports.”

“Such a review would help assess lessons learned and determine areas for improvement so that the division is better prepared for future outbreaks,” the report said.

“We appreciate the complexity of the division’s responsibilities to protect public health, and we understand that every disease is unique; but that doesn’t mean every outbreak response should be a one-of-a-kind effort,” Kondo said in a statement.

“That seems to have been the case for the three disease outbreak responses that we reviewed,” Kondo said. “Without plans, policies and protocols in place prior to an outbreak, and proper record keeping and assessment during and after the effort, it appears that the division had to ‘reinvent the wheel’ for each response.”

Dr. Virginia Pressler, state health director, said the Hawaii Department of Health has been reorganizing to streamline its response to disease outbreaks.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

In response to the report’s findings, Dr. Virginia Pressler, state health director, noted that “there is always room for improvement,” and that the department has been reorganizing, putting her directly in charge of overseeing its outbreak response.

“This reorganization is a major shift,” Pressler wrote in a letter to Kondo. “It takes the response to disease outbreak from a divisional responsibility and elevates it to one that has direct oversight and involvement by the director of health. … Under the reorganization, keeping the public informed by providing accurate, timely information is identified as a response objective.”

In a statement to Civil Beat, Pressler stressed that the department’s priority during an outbreak is still public safety, which “takes precedence over documentation and record keeping especially when our resources are limited.”

“The report should not detract from the great work done by the individuals in our Disease Outbreak Control Division,” Pressler added. “Those individuals put their heart and soul into the response and did excellent work to respond to and control these outbreaks. Their hard work and commitment is indisputable and should not be discounted by the report.”

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Hawaii And Other States Reach Settlement On Deceptive Drug Marketing https://www.civilbeat.org/2017/12/hawaii-and-other-states-reach-settlement-on-deceptive-drug-marketing/ Thu, 28 Dec 2017 10:01:06 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1262427 Hawaii and the other 49 states have reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the maker of drugs to treat stroke, blood pressure and lung ailments over the company’s deceptive marketing practices. The $13.5 million settlement, finalized Friday, stemmed from a multi-state investigation into allegations that Boehringer Ingelheim unlawfully promoted its four brand-name prescription drugs — Aggrenox, […]

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Hawaii and the other 49 states have reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the maker of drugs to treat stroke, blood pressure and lung ailments over the company’s deceptive marketing practices.

The $13.5 million settlement, finalized Friday, stemmed from a multi-state investigation into allegations that Boehringer Ingelheim unlawfully promoted its four brand-name prescription drugs — Aggrenox, Atrovent, Combivent and Micardis — for off-label use and made deceptive claims about their effectiveness.

According to lawsuits filed last week by the states and the District of Columbia, Boehringer Ingelheim, for instance, allegedly misrepresented that Aggrenox — an antiplatelet drug approved to reduce the risk of secondary stroke in patients who have had a “mini-stroke” — was superior to competing drug Plavix in treating many conditions “below the neck,” such as heart attacks.

 

Boehringer Ingelheim

The plaintiffs claimed the settlement with Boehringer Ingelheim will help protect vulnerable customers.

Boehringer Ingelheim

Boehringer Ingelheim is also alleged to have falsely asserted that Atrovent and Combivent were essential for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and could be used at doses that exceeded the maximum recommendation in the product labeling.

Lisa Tong, attorney who handled Hawaii’s lawsuit on behalf of the state Office of Consumer Protection, told Civil Beat that the settlement requires Boehringer Ingelheim to ensure that its marketing and promotional practices won’t unlawfully promote its products.

Tong said Hawaii’s share of the settlement is $146,000. “It was a good result for the state,” she said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who led the settlement executive committee, said the settlement will help protect vulnerable consumers.

“Consumers, particularly senior citizens, rely on doctors and drug manufacturers to provide accurate information about the risks and benefits of prescription drugs,” Shapiro said in a statement.

“When a company misrepresents the benefit of a drug, it can cause real harm to consumers. I won’t allow Pennsylvanians to be hurt by companies that make these kind of misleading claims, and I’m holding Boehringer Ingelheim accountable for its deceptive conduct,” Shapiro said.

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Gov. Ige Makes Two Cabinet Appointments https://www.civilbeat.org/2017/12/gov-ige-makes-two-cabinet-appointments/ Wed, 27 Dec 2017 05:10:50 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1262323 With six days left in the year, Gov. David Ige has reshuffled his cabinet, making appointments to fill two positions that are slated to become vacant next week. Ige announced Tuesday that he has selected Laurel Johnston to temporarily take over from State Budget Director Wes Machida, who is retiring at the end of the […]

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With six days left in the year, Gov. David Ige has reshuffled his cabinet, making appointments to fill two positions that are slated to become vacant next week.

Laurel Johnston Department of Budget and Finance

Laurel Johnston

Ige announced Tuesday that he has selected Laurel Johnston to temporarily take over from State Budget Director Wes Machida, who is retiring at the end of the month after 30 years in the state government.

Johnston, who has been Machida’s deputy since December 2016, will serve as budget director until Ige makes a formal appointment for the position.

“Laurel has been involved in the preparation of this year’s budget and will provide steady direction for the department until a permanent replacement is named,” Ige said in a statement.

According to the governor’s office, Machida is retiring to “spend more time with his family and anticipates doing some volunteer work with the state, especially in the area of retirement planning.”

“Wes has been a true partner in managing the state’s finances,” Ige said. “Under his leadership, the state’s general obligation bond credit ratings were raised, saving over $140 million taxpayer dollars. I’m grateful he chose to serve the people of Hawaii.”

Ige also appointed Ryker Wada to serve as director of the Department of Human Resources Development.

Ryker Wada Department of Human Resources Development

Ryker Wada

Wada, who takes over the department effective Jan. 1, has served as the deputy director since December 2016. Prior to joining the department, he worked for the Windward District of the Department of Education. He has also served as managing attorney for the Honolulu office of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii.

Wade will succeed Jim Nishimoto, who is retiring at the end of the month after 40 years in public service. Wada’s appointment must be confirmed by the state Senate.

Nishimoto “has been an outstanding leader in transforming state government,” Ige said.

“His innovative programs, including the multi-skilled pilot program, have expanded the use of technology and helped re-shape our workforce, and last year he was instrumental in renegotiating all 14 collective bargaining contracts. He has certainly earned his retirement, and I wish him well as he spends time with his family.”

Sarah Allen State Procurement Office

Sarah Allen

On Tuesday, Ige also announced that he reappointed Sarah Allen as the state’s procurement administrator.

Allen, who was first appointed to the position by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie in 2013, will serve a new 4-year term that extends through Oct. 3, 2021.

“Sarah has played a vital role in this position, and I appreciate the energy with which she serves the people of Hawaii,” Ige said.

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Why The Number of Criminal Defendants Sent To The State Hospital Is Soaring https://www.civilbeat.org/2017/12/why-the-number-of-criminal-defendants-sent-to-the-state-hospital-is-soaring/ Tue, 05 Dec 2017 10:01:08 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1259520 Hawaii has seen a dramatic increase in the number of criminal defendants being ordered by state courts to stay at the Hawaii State Hospital during the past two decades, a trend that has put an enormous strain on the Kaneohe facility. According to the Hawaii Department of Health, the courts committed 331 defendants to the […]

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Hawaii has seen a dramatic increase in the number of criminal defendants being ordered by state courts to stay at the Hawaii State Hospital during the past two decades, a trend that has put an enormous strain on the Kaneohe facility.

According to the Hawaii Department of Health, the courts committed 331 defendants to the State Hospital in 2016, accounting for every admission to Hawaii’s only state-run psychiatric facility.

That’s more than a threefold increase from 1997, when 100 patients were committed under court order.

Most forensic patients end up at the Hawaii State Hospital for reasons relating to their mental fitness to stand trial.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

The number of forensic patients at the State Hospital has been under the spotlight since acquitted killer Randall Saito escaped last month and fled to California, triggering an investigation that has so far resulted in a number of suspensions among employees.

But only a handful of defendants end up at the State Hospital each year in the same way as Saito — automatically committed there after being acquitted of their charges “on the grounds of physical or mental disease, disorder or defect.”

In fiscal year 2016, 16 patients were committed that way.

Meanwhile, a vast majority of forensic patients end up at the State Hospital for reasons relating to their mental fitness to stand trial: Nearly 70 percent of all patients were committed either for being “unfit to proceed” in their cases or to be evaluated for their fitness.

Those who were recommitted after violating the terms of their conditional release made up an additional 26 percent of the admissions at the State Hospital.

Marvin Acklin, a Honolulu forensic psychologist, says “multiple interlocking factors” are likely playing a role in the increase in forensic patients.

Acklin says one factor is that the courts are increasingly aware of how a defendant’s mental illness can affect the ability to receive a fair trial — and how failing to consider competency can become grounds for appeals.

A defense attorney, judge or prosecutor can request a competency evaluation if a defendant exhibits signs of mental illness. A defendant found unfit is required to go through treatment until he or she is “restored” to competency.

But Acklin, who has evaluated more than 600 forensic patients — including Randall Saito, who escaped the State Hospital last month — says the biggest driver of the increase in forensic patients is likely homelessness among the mentally ill.

According to the latest “point in time” count, nearly 1,100 homeless people in Hawaii were suffering from a “serious mental illness” during the week of Jan. 23, when the annual survey was conducted. That’s an increase of more than 30 percent from 2013.

“If people don’t have a place to live, are they more likely to be mentally ill or to commit a crime? The answer to that is likely yes,” Acklin said. “So is this a reflection of what’s happening in terms of being able to provide mental health services to people who are un-housed? I’m sure that there’s a connection.”

Jack Tonaki, the state public defender, concurs, saying that he sees an uptick in mentally ill defendants whenever a homeless sweep takes place.

Tonaki says the increase in forensic patients “is a symptom of more people living out on the sidewalks in the streets, and that in turn is leading to more police action, which in turn leads to an overload in the various social service areas.”

In Hawaii, 18 provisions in the Hawaii Revised Statutes spell out the circumstances in which a defendant can end up in the custody of the Department of Health, which operates the State Hospital.

By and large, the provisions outline two broad scenarios: One is when a defendant might be unfit to stand trial, while the other is when he or she is acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity.

Such scenarios have played out in some of Hawaii’s biggest murder cases, including one in which Adam Mau-Goffredo was accused of fatally shooting three people at Tantalus Lookout in 2006. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Mau-Goffredo was eventually found unfit to stand trial and has since been committed to the State Hospital.

But most forensic patients at the State Hospital are involved in less severe crimes. Nearly 80 percent of forensic patients committed in fiscal year 2016 were charged with the lowest-level felonies or misdemeanors — about 45 percent of which involved “offense against another.”

Like Randall Saito, who escaped from the Hawaii State Hospital and fled to California last month, all patients at the Kaneohe facility have been committed there by state courts.

San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office

Neil Gowensmith, former chief of forensic science at the Adult Mental Health Division, says the increase in forensic patients in Hawaii mirrors national trends.

Gowensmith, who now leads the Denver Forensic Institute for Research Service and Training at the University of Denver, has been studying the increasing number of competency evaluations across the country — including in Colorado, which saw a 206 percent jump from 2005 to 2014.

“Those requests for competency evaluations are skyrocketing all over the place, and more people are being found incompetent,” Gowensmith said. “It’s gone up consistently year after year, but within the past seven to 10 years there’s been an explosion.”

Ultimately, Gowensmith says, the increase in forensic patients at the State Hospital highlights a lack of preventive treatment for the mentally ill.

In 2008, the Adult Mental Health Division suffered significant funding cuts — about $25 million in all. That led to the elimination of 58 staff positions and reduction in resources for the community-based mental health services, such as case management and homeless outreach.

Janice Okubo, a department spokeswoman, says the Adult Mental Health Division began rebuilding the community-based services in 2014. Still, they’re yet to be back up to the pre-2008 level.

“Folks are falling through the cracks and then wind up getting usually low-level misdemeanor, nonviolent charges because they’re not getting their mental health needs met,” Gowensmith said. “I think the number of forensic patients will continue to rise unless that’s changed.”

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One Senator’s Prescription For Making The State Hospital Safer https://www.civilbeat.org/2017/11/one-senators-prescription-for-making-the-state-hospital-safer/ Wed, 22 Nov 2017 10:01:24 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1258218 In the aftermath of Randall Saito’s escape from the Hawaii State Hospital last week, a state senator is calling on the Ige administration to double the number of security personnel at the Kaneohe facility. State Sen. Josh Green, who co-chaired a special investigative committee that examined the State Hospital’s operation in 2014, says 15 additional […]

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In the aftermath of Randall Saito’s escape from the Hawaii State Hospital last week, a state senator is calling on the Ige administration to double the number of security personnel at the Kaneohe facility.

State Sen. Josh Green, who co-chaired a special investigative committee that examined the State Hospital’s operation in 2014, says 15 additional guards should be hired to secure Hawaii’s only state-run psychiatric facility, which now houses 202 patients.

If necessary, Green says, Gov. David Ige should exercise his discretion to send some sheriff’s deputies to help ward off future escapes from the State Hospital.

“This should continue at least until all internal security and safety assessments are completed by the Department of Public Safety and other relevant parties,” Green said in a letter he sent Tuesday to the Hawaii Department of Health, which operates the State Hospital.

State Sen. Josh Green, right, co-chaired a 2014 special investigative committee with then-Sen. Clayton Hee that looked into problems at Hawaii State Hospital.

Nick Grube/Civil Beat

The beefed-up security is part of a multi-pronged strategy that Green says the Ige administration should adopt immediately.

Green, who is running for Lieutenant Governor, also recommends that the State Hospital “freeze” admission of “highly assaultive” patients, as well as those with a history of violence — including not bringing back four patients housed by a South Carolina contractor “due to intractable dangerous behaviors” and sending more violent patients to the mainland.

“Once the security is expedited and in place, they can resume taking those patients,” Green said. “It’s the only responsible approach.”

Green told Civil Beat that he came up with his recommendations after meeting with William May, the State Hospital’s administrator, and Lynn Fallin, deputy director of the Behavioral Health Services Administration, on Monday.

“These initial steps should provide the necessary safety, security and peace of mind for our community and should give you the necessary capacity to focus on the critical work at hand, providing clinical services to some of the most challenging patients in Hawaii,” Green said in his letter.

Ige, who was traveling to Kona on Tuesday afternoon, could not be reached for comment.

Anna Koethe, a department spokeswoman, released a statement, noting the State Hospital is ordering more fencing and has suspended all patients’ “on-ground unescorted and off-grounds un-escorted privileges”

The department “appreciates the recommendations of Senator Josh Green and other legislators who have offered their support and advice,” the statement reads. “Prior to this event, the hospital has used additional funding to place guards at all units and at the perimeter of the hospital grounds. Since then, we evaluated our current security level and have already reassigned security staff.”

Build New Facility Faster

Ultimately, Green says, what the state needs is the 144-bed facility reserved for high-risk patients that’s being built as part of a master plan to more than double the capacity of the State Hospital.

Green says the Ige administration should pull out all stops to fast-track the construction — enough to move up the completion date, now set for December 2020, by a year.

“This should be feasible, given the security need we have and the reality that other much larger projects like courthouses and large condominiums are being completed in Hawaii in much shorter time frames,” Green said.

“If necessary, the governor should invoke (the state of emergency) to cut through any governmental obstacles to rapidly complete this project.”

A new forensic facility to expand the capacity of the Hawaii State Hospital is scheduled to be completed in December 2020.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

But State Sen. Jill Tokuda, whose district includes Kaneohe, cautioned against rushing the project.

“You won’t find anybody who wants the new forensic facility to be built in the most efficient and effective way as possible — as quickly as possible — more than me. I have been working on this project as long as I have been in the office,” said Tokuda, who is also running for Lieutenant Governor.

“But I have seen the state screw up so many big projects. So, for a project of this scale and magnitude and complexity, do it well and do it right. I don’t want us to rush a $160 million project — one of the largest CIP projects that we have appropriated in my recent memory — and fail.”

State Senator Jill Tokuda, who represents the Kaneohe district where the State Hospital is located, cautioned against speeding up construction of a new facility.

Jill Tokuda

Tokuda added that she’s had a number of meetings with May to come up with better ways to inform the surrounding community in the event of escape.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin is now spearheading an investigation to find out how Saito managed to escape and take two flights to California before the public was notified.

The Department of Health has yet to explain why it took at least eight hours before employees realized that Saito had escaped and notified the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

May is “setting up meetings with the neighborhood board, as well as the community associations,” Tokuda said.

“I talked today with him about even reaching out to the surrounding churches in the neighborhood, as well as the county parks services and schools, because they have social media networks and a lot of different ways to communicate.

“For me, the bottom line is how can we better communicate as a community to get the word out and keep people safe,” Tokuda said.

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Hawaii State Hospital Wasn’t Built For The Type Of Patients It Serves https://www.civilbeat.org/2017/11/hawaii-state-hospital-wasnt-built-for-the-type-of-patients-it-serves/ Thu, 16 Nov 2017 10:01:19 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1257484 The Hawaii State Hospital was not meant for patients like Randall Saito. Saito, who was acquitted of a 1979 murder by reason of insanity, escaped the State Hospital on Sunday, triggering a three-day, multi-jurisdictional manhunt that grabbed national and international headlines. On Tuesday morning, Saito was arrested in Stockton, California, after a taxi driver recognized […]

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The Hawaii State Hospital was not meant for patients like Randall Saito.

Saito, who was acquitted of a 1979 murder by reason of insanity, escaped the State Hospital on Sunday, triggering a three-day, multi-jurisdictional manhunt that grabbed national and international headlines.

On Tuesday morning, Saito was arrested in Stockton, California, after a taxi driver recognized him and alerted local authorities.

An investigation is now underway to find out how he managed to walk out of the Kaneohe facility, catch a taxi, and board a chartered flight to Maui and then a commercial flight to California — all before he was reported missing.

“I think it’s pretty clear … that this was premeditated, it was intentional, it was planned,” said Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin, who is spearheading the investigation.

What’s also clear is that the State Hospital — the only state-run psychiatric facility in Hawaii — wasn’t built with security in mind for “forensic” patients like Saito.

Yet, virtually all admissions to the State Hospital are forensic — involving patients who were committed to the custody of the Hawaii Department of Health by state courts.

The Hawaii State Hospital is shown in Kaneohe, Hawaii, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. The search for a dangerous man who escaped from the Hawaii psychiatric hospital moved to California after authorities said Tuesday he boarded a flight to the state from Maui two days earlier. Randall Saito, who was acquitted of a 1979 murder by reason of insanity, left the state hospital outside Honolulu on Sunday, took a taxi to a chartered plane that took him to the island of Maui and then boarded another plane to San Jose, California, Honolulu police said. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

Since 2014, the Hawaii Department of Health had seven patients escape from the Hawaii State Hospital — including Randall Saito, who was captured in California on Wednesday.

AP

In fiscal year 2016, the State Hospital admitted 349 patients — all but one of whom were criminally committed.

Nearly 70 percent of all patients were committed either for being “unfit to proceed” in their cases or to be evaluated for their fitness. And, like Saito, 16 patients were automatically admitted after being acquitted of their charges “on the grounds of physical or mental disease, disorder or defect.”

Dr. Virginia Pressler, state health director, told reporters Wednesday that, once committed to the State Hospital, each patient is treated individually “based upon what is thought to be appropriate clinical care for them.”

That means that some patients could be locked up in their room — or held in a room with an open door that has an employee stationed outside — if they’re considered to pose danger to themselves and others.

But Mark Fridovich, administrator of the Adult Mental Health Division, says the State Hospital has “an obligation to treat individuals in the least restrictive setting.”

“It’s not a custodial environment. It’s not a prison environment where people are locked up for periods of time,” Fridovich said Tuesday. “That means, as part of their rehabilitation, affording them the opportunity to explore relative autonomy and some independence around their movement. They’re not just locked up.”

Saito, for instance, had been allowed to roam around the fenced-in areas of the State Hospital’s 103-acre campus, according to Pressler.

But the relative freedom can be risky — with Saito’s escape being an Exhibit A.

Janice Okubo, a department spokeswoman, told Civil Beat that the State Hospital used to have as many as 14 escapes a year.

At least one of the escapes had a deadly consequence: Last year, David True Seal, who fled to the Big Island after scaling the State Hospital’s 14-foot fence in 2009, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on a 2013 manslaughter charge.

But Okubo noted that the number of escapes “dramatically declined” in recent years since the State Hospital improved its protocols and procedures.

Still, seven patients — including Saito — have escaped since 2014, Okubo said.

AG Doug Chin Governor David Ige.

Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the Hawaii Department of Health, said several hospital employees will be placed on unpaid leave for 30 days during the investigation of Randall Saito’s escape.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Expansion Planned

If all goes according to plan, the State Hospital will have tighter security measures in place by December 2020, when a planned expansion is set to be completed.

Last year, the Legislature approved $160.5 million in bonds to fund the expansion, setting in motion a master plan that will more than double the capacity of the State Hospital, which was built for up to 178 patients and licensed to hold 202.

Under the plan, the Department of Health will expand the hospital by building two 144-bed facilities — one of which will be reserved for high-risk patients, featuring a secure exterior wall and high-security fencing system to reduce the risk of escapes.

Okubo said the department has already knocked down the long-vacant Goddard Building to make room for the facility for high-risk patients.

And the department will soon solicit proposals from vendors for the construction of the facility.

“The new facility has definite lines of sight where staff can see patients clearly,” Okubo said. “The hospital we have now is not built for forensic patients; it was built for civil patients.”

Senator Jill Tokuda flanked by left, Rep Jarrett Keohokalole and Rep Ken Ito in the Capitol Rotunda to address recent concerns about the recent Saito escape from the Kaneohe Hospital.

State Sen. Jill Tokuda, flanked by state Rep. Jarrett Keohokalole, left, and state Rep. Ken Ito, right, voiced her concerns at the Capitol on Wednesday about security at the Hawaii State Hospital.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

But some state lawmakers say the Ige administration has to step up its game to improve security until the new facility is built.

“We demand that nothing less than the Department of Health really coming forward with what exactly is going to be the response and the plan of action. What are they specifically going to do in terms of making sure this does not happen again?” asked state Sen. Jill Tokuda, whose district includes Kaneohe.

Tokuda notes that the department’s effort to improve the State Hospital’s operations has been well supported by the Legislature, pointing out that it set aside $1.7 million for an additional security just two years ago.

“We have appropriated. We have been supportive. We have done the site visits. Now it’s time for some real action and some real accountability, and that’s what we’re asking for,” Tokuda said.

Gov. David Ige told reporters Wednesday that the department has started reviewing patient privileges and public visitation policies, as well as boosting the frequency of unannounced patient searches and ordering more fencing.

The department, Ige said, will have “a complete review of the protocols that are in place at the Hawaii State Hospital — really ensuring that this incident cannot be repeated.”

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Officials Still Silent About How Killer Escaped From Hawaii State Hospital https://www.civilbeat.org/2017/11/officials-still-silent-about-how-killer-escaped-from-hawaii-state-hospital/ Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:51:13 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1257268 More than two days after a man who is likened to a serial killer by prosecutors escaped from the state’s psychiatric hospital and triggered a multi-state manhunt, the Hawaii Department of Health is refusing to say how he managed to walk out of the Kaneohe facility. The department operates the Hawaii State Hospital, where Randall […]

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More than two days after a man who is likened to a serial killer by prosecutors escaped from the state’s psychiatric hospital and triggered a multi-state manhunt, the Hawaii Department of Health is refusing to say how he managed to walk out of the Kaneohe facility.

The department operates the Hawaii State Hospital, where Randall Saito, 59, has been ordered to stay since 1981 — two years after he was acquitted of a murder of a 29-year-old woman by reason of insanity.

This undated photo provided by the Maui Police Department shows Randall Toshio Saito. Hawaii authorities are searching for Saito, who was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity, after he escaped from Hawaii State Hospital in Honolulu on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, and flew to Maui. (Maui Police Department via AP)

Randall Toshio Saito

AP

Citing privacy laws and a pending criminal investigation, Mark Fridovich, administrator of the Adult Mental Health Division, told reporters Tuesday that the department can’t release any details about the circumstances surrounding Saito’s escape.

William May, the State Hospital’s administrator, did acknowledge that Saito failed to check back in from unsupervised release within the hospital grounds at 11 a.m. Sunday. But it wasn’t until after 7 p.m. before employees realized that Saito had escaped and notified the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

“Once we determined there was an escape, we called (the Department of Public Safety) immediately,” May said.

But, according to the police, Saito was out of the islands by then — taking a taxi to a chartered plane to Maui before boarding a second flight to San Jose, where some of his family members live.

The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service have reviewed security footage from the San Jose International Airport in connection with the manhunt, airport spokesman Jon Vaden said.

“Saito is considered extremely dangerous and should not be approached,” police said in a statement late Tuesday.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin announced Wednesday that his office charged Saito with felony escape. A bench warrant has been issued for Saito’s arrest in the amount of $500,000.

“This is a dangerous individual. We need him off the streets,” Chin said. “The State is in close contact with law enforcement to make this happen.”

Citing privacy laws and a pending criminal investigation, the Hawaii Department of Health is refusing to release any details about the circumstances surrounding Randall Saito’s escape from the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Saito was committed to the State Hospital 36 years ago — after being found not guilty of killing Sandra Yamashiro, who was shot and repeatedly stabbed before her body was found in her car at the Ala Moana Center parking lot.

Saito filed for conditional release in 1993, but the court denied his request, saying he suffered from necrophilia and sexual sadism.

A second attempt by defense attorneys to win Saito’s release in 2000 was also blocked after deputy prosecutor Jeff Albert objected, saying he “fills all the criteria of a classic serial killer.”

“He is a very dangerous individual,” said Wayne Tashima, a deputy prosecutor who argued in 2015 against Saito receiving passes to leave the hospital grounds without an escort.

Tashima warned people to not approach Saito, saying there’s a concern that he could commit the same “very heinous and violent offense” again.

Saito was the impetus for a rule change in 2003, when the Hawaii Attorney General’s office decided that patients at the State Hospital have no legal right to conjugal visits.

The issue came to light when the State Hospital’s administrator learned that Saito had been escorted home for weekend conjugal visits over two years.

Across the country, dangerous patients have also escaped recently from other psychiatric facilities.

In 2016, a man in Washington state accused of torturing a woman to death broke out of the state’s largest mental hospital. Anthony Garver crawled out of a window of his ground-floor room at Western State Hospital, rode a bus 300 miles to Spokane and was captured days later without incident.

After the escape Washington Gov. Jay Inslee fired the hospital’s CEO and brought in the Corrections Department to inspect the building for security improvements.

A review of police reports by The Associated Press found 185 instances in the 3 ½ years before Garver’s escape in which Western State patients escaped or walked away.

In Hawaii, the State Hospital came under fire in 2013 for its high rates of patient assaults on employees. The issue led to a legislative investigation, which also looked into overtime abuse, nepotism and threats of retaliation against whistleblowers.

A Senate committee eventually produced a 87-page report, whose wide-ranging recommendations called for, among other things, building a new state hospital to reduce overcrowding.

According to the Department of Health’s annual report, the State Hospital admitted 349 patients in fiscal year 2016 — all but one of whom were criminally committed.

Last year, the Legislature signed off on a plan to more than double the State Hospital’s capacity, approving $160.5 million in bonds to fund the construction.

According to the annual report, the number of assaults on employees has seen a steady decline, going from 145 in fiscal year 2013 to 76 three years later.

But some say the State Hospital still has a long way to go in fixing its problems.

“There is a serious lack of information for the public,” said Nicholas Iwamoto, who was stabbed 18 times on a popular Hawaii hiking trail in 2009. His attacker was found legally insane and sent to the State Hospital. He was later granted conditional release to attend community college, a decision about which Iwamoto wasn’t notified.

“Public safety has certainly been compromised,” Iwamoto said. “It’s extremely alarming. But nothing from the state surprises me anymore.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Nevada’s ‘Most Dangerous’ Inmates Move In With Hawaii Prisoners https://www.civilbeat.org/2017/11/nevadas-most-dangerous-inmates-move-in-with-hawaii-prisoners/ Tue, 14 Nov 2017 10:01:36 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1257069 Hawaii prisoners housed at a for-profit prison in Arizona will soon have new neighbors: 200 Nevada prisoners who are considered by Silver State officials as “the most disruptive and the most dangerous.” Last month, the Nevada Board of Examiners signed off on a two-year, $9.2 million contract with CoreCivic, the largest for-profit prison company in […]

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Hawaii prisoners housed at a for-profit prison in Arizona will soon have new neighbors: 200 Nevada prisoners who are considered by Silver State officials as “the most disruptive and the most dangerous.”

Last month, the Nevada Board of Examiners signed off on a two-year, $9.2 million contract with CoreCivic, the largest for-profit prison company in the country, to house its excess prisoners at the Saguaro Correctional Center.

Nevada prisoners are slated to arrive at Saguaro later this month, joining about 1,600 Hawaii prisoners at the 1,896-bed prison in Eloy, Arizona, about 70 miles southeast of Phoenix.

CoreCivic houses about 1,600 Hawaii prisoners at the Saguaro Correctional Center, a 1,896-bed prison in Eloy, Arizona, about 70 miles southeast of Phoenix. Later this month, 200 Nevada prisoners will also be housed there.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

James Dzurenda, director of the Nevada Department of Corrections, told the Board of Examiners that the transfer will be reserved for prisoners who are “creating a fear factor” — those who recruit gang members and extort others.

“We are not going to tolerate any of this behavior by these inmates. If they want to partake in gang activity, if they want to disrupt the operation of our facilities, they will find themselves going to Arizona,” Dzurenda said. “I can create a better environment here in Nevada for those that really do need the help to get back in the community.”

The Hawaii Department of Public Safety says the arrival of Nevada prisoners is no cause for alarm, noting that Hawaii prisoners will be separated from the Nevada inmates.

“The Nevada inmates will be housed in an area fenced off and separated from Hawaii inmate housing,” said Toni Schwartz, public safety spokeswoman. “This population coming in will not be mixed in with the Hawaii population during any programming, recreation or meal time.”

In an email, CoreCivic spokesman Jonathan Burns wrote: “In addition to physical barriers such as fencing and physical plant design, appropriate security and procedural measures will be taken to ensure the inmate populations do not mix.”

Burns declined to provide more details on how prisoners will be separated in dining halls, recreational yards and other common areas. Still, he said, Saguaro is a “multi-security” facility that’s “well-equipped to meet the needs of both Hawaii and Nevada” prisoners.

“CoreCivic has deep experience managing distinct populations within a single correctional facility setting,” Burns said. “We have worked closely with both Hawaii and Nevada officials to ensure potential issues presented by this management approach have been addressed to their satisfaction.”

But Carrie Ann Shirota, a lead organizer for the Hawaii Justice Coalition, points out that Burns’ claim is contradicted by CoreCivic’s dismal history.

In 1999, for instance, a brawl involving two dozen prisoners broke out at the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, Oklahoma, where Hawaii and Indiana prisoners were housed at the time.

“They are asking us to trust and take their word at the face value that they’ll keep our inmates safe. But they have a terrible track record,” said Shirota, who once examined the for-profit prison industry as a fellow at the Open Society Foundations. “Even assuming that they won’t be mixing our inmates, we’re still running a higher risk.”

Growing Reliance

Hawaii first began sending its prisoners to private, for-profit prisons on the mainland in 1995 — as a “short-term solution to chronic overcrowding.” More than 20 years later, the state’s dependency on for-profit prisons shows no signs of waning.

Hawaii signed its first contract with CoreCivic — formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America — in 1998, when it began sending prisoners to the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minnesota. It has since gone on to use eight other CoreCivic-run prisons across six states — including Saguaro, which was opened just for Hawaii in 2007.

Last year, the Department of Public Safety signed a new contact with CoreCivic to continue housing prisoners at Saguaro, despite a long history of problems that includes the murders of at least three Hawaii prisoners there.

In fiscal year 2016, CoreCivic housed a daily average of 1,388 Hawaii prisoners — about a quarter of the state’s inmate population — at Saguaro. An additional 230 prisoners are now housed there to make room for facility upgrades at the Halawa Correctional Facility.

For Nevada, the transfer of 200 prisoners to Saguaro marks its first foray into contracting with the for-profit prison industry.

But the driving force behind the transfer is the same as Hawaii’s: a dire shortage of beds — exacerbated by upcoming repairs and upgrades that will put several wings of Nevada prisons out of commission.

“We have 322 inmates today that are not sleeping or being housed in traditional bed areas,” Dzurenda said last month. “Those inmates go into day room areas, program areas that we make appropriate housing for, but it takes away program space that we know is going to help get these inmates back into society much better than they came in.”

CCA Arizona sign. 5 march 2016

CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, is the country’s largest for-profit prison company and runs the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Private Prisons Back In Favor

Nevada’s decision to outsource its prison operation comes amid an increasing public debate about the use of for-profit facilities, which has surged since the 1980s to cope with soaring populations of prisoners, jail inmates and immigrant detainees across the country.

Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would phase out the use of for-profit prisons by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, causing the stock prices of CoreCivic and a number of other companies to tumble precipitously.

The move was in response to a scathing report by the department’s inspector general that found more safety and security issues at for-profit prisons.

But the tide against the use of for-profit prisons turned again under the Trump administration. In February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama administration’s policy, saying it impaired the Bureau of Prisons’ ability to respond to future needs.

With President Donald Trump in office, the stock prices of for-profit prison companies have also rebounded, as investors speculated that demand would surpass earlier levels — with an expected surge in the number of immigrant detainees.

CoreCivic’s shares, in particular, have soared, rallying more than 50 percent — largely thanks to Trump’s victory last year, as well as the company’s effort to diversify its work by getting into real estate and re-entry programs.

But CoreCivic’s bread and butter is still locking up prisoners for profit, and Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, says it’s important to keep in mind that, ultimately, the company is only interested in maximizing profits for its shareholders — even at the expense of prisoners under its care.

That’s why, Brady says, the Department of Public Safety has to step up its oversight.

“CoreCivic has an abysmal record of operating its facilities, and yet Hawaii is turning deaf ears. They say, ‘Oh, we call them, and they tell us it’s all good.’ No wonder they like doing business with Hawaii,” Brady said.

“I mean, Hawaii has lost its moral compass. We really don’t consider the people who are inside. We don’t consider how we got to this place — which is through bad policies that are punitive and ineffective. We must reverse that.”

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‘Preferred’ Jail Site Currently Houses Animal Quarantine Station https://www.civilbeat.org/2017/11/preferred-jail-site-currently-houses-animal-quarantine-station/ Thu, 09 Nov 2017 04:35:57 +0000 http://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1256654 Gov. David Ige announced Wednesday that the “preferred site” to build a new jail to replace the crumbling Oahu Community Correctional Center is on 25 acres of state land in Halawa Valley that now houses the Animal Quarantine Station. The site of the quarantine station, which is managed by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, was […]

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Gov. David Ige announced Wednesday that the “preferred site” to build a new jail to replace the crumbling Oahu Community Correctional Center is on 25 acres of state land in Halawa Valley that now houses the Animal Quarantine Station.

The site of the quarantine station, which is managed by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, was selected among 12 potential locations to build a replacement facility for OCCC — the state’s oldest jail that has long been plagued by overcrowding and crumbling infrastructure.

Ige told reporters that the site has a number of advantages over three other locations considered “viable” by a team of consultants hired by the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

Governor David Ige announces OCCC new prison location at the current Animal Quarantine in Halawa Valley.

Gov. David Ige identifies the state’s Animal Quarantine Station site as the “preferred” destination for a the new Oahu Community Correctional Center.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The biggest advantage is the cost: an estimated $525 million, including $17.5 million to build a new animal quarantine facility just west of the current site.

That’s cheaper than building a new facility at the other locations — a site adjacent to the Halawa Correctional Facility, Mililani Technology Park‘s “Lot 17” and OCCC’s current campus in Kalihi — with estimated costs ranging from $555 million to $595 million.

The estimate cost for the quarantine station site is based on the assumption that a new OCCC will be made up of two buildings — one with 1,044 beds that holds both pretrial and convicted inmates; the other with 288 beds reserved for “pre-release” inmates who are “transitioning back into society.”

“I’m confident that we will be able to build a modern facility at the Animal Quarantine Station that relieves long-standing overcrowding and is secure, efficient and cost-effective,” Ige said.

“It’s away from residents, it would have the lowest impact to existing public safety operations, and it will have, we believe, a minimum environmental impact.”

Uncertain Prospects In Legislature

The selection of the quarantine station site follows nearly two years of a drawn-out process in which the public’s input was sought in a series of “scoping” meetings held by the Department of Public Safety.

Ige stressed that the department will continue to solicit the public’s input, noting that a 60-day commenting period began Wednesday for a draft environmental impact statement.

The environmental review process also covers the expansion of the Women’s Community Correctional Center to make room for female pre-trial inmates who are now housed at OCCC.

Ige told reporters that a separate planning process will determine what happens to OCCC’s current, 16-acre site, which is coveted for its proximity to the route of the Honolulu rail project.

Ige also noted that, since the environmental review process will go well into 2018, he won’t be seeking any funding in the upcoming legislative session for a new OCCC.

But it’s unclear whether the Legislature, once presented with a final plan, will be receptive to any capital improvement project with a price tag that exceeds a half-billion dollars.

State Rep. Gregg Takayama, who chairs the House Public Safety Committee, told Civil Beat that he still supports the selection of the quarantine station site because of its size — large enough to also house a stand-alone drug treatment facility.

“The reason that I think it’s important to build a drug rehabilitation facility as part of OCCC is that, in the long term, it will help reduce recidivism rate of our drug offenders,” Takayama said. “Right now, they’re not able to access drug treatment programs because of limitations in program space, and this will enable us to move forward in a constructive way.”

Animal Quarantine kennels .15 may 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The Animal Quarantine Station would be relocated to make room for a new Oahu Community Correctional Center.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

But some prison-reform advocates, who gathered Wednesday at the Capitol in protest, made it clear that they’d oppose any push by the Ige administration to build a new facility.

Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, pointed out that the optics of sending inmates to the quarantine station site is terrible.

“That is a pretty strong statement about what you think, about how they actually look at the people ‘in their care,'” said Brady, who held a sign that read, “From animal quarantine to people quarantine? No!”

Carrie Anne Shirota, a lead organizer for the Hawaii Justice Coalition’s SCALE campaign, noted that the Correctional Justice Task Force, which was created by the Legislature last year, will be coming out with a set of recommendations next month.

In its interim report released in February, the task force called for a philosophical “paradigm shift” that involves building a much smaller jail, with most inmates diverted to community-based programs.

“If we’re really interested in building a safer community, we need to invest in what works, and building more prisons is not the solution,” Shirota said.

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