Ongoing Series { An Examination of Hawaii's Public Records Law

Not So Public: Auditor Stonewalled On Prison Job

Hawaii State Auditor

Last week the ACLU of Hawaii and human rights advocates filed suit against the state and Corrections Corporation of America over the death of an inmate in the Arizona prison operated by CCA.

We decided to dig out the December 2010 state audit of the deal between Hawaii and CCA to house prisoners in the Saguaro facility. You may recall the report by State Auditor Marion Higa was extremely critical of the Department of Public Safety (under the Lingle administration) for the way the contract was handled and overseen.

But we were struck by another section. It described how difficult it was for the state's own auditors to access public information they needed to figure out whether the taxpayers were paying too much to keep prisoners on the mainland. We already knew it's difficult for reporters and members of the public to access "public" information in Hawaii. But for the auditor, the state's own watchdog appointed by the Legislature, to run into the same kinds of problems. Wow!

Here's much of what Higa had to say on DPS' stonewalling:

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