Hawaii Auditor: State Oversight Of Mainland Prisons Still Lagging

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State officials still don’t do a good job providing oversight of for-profit, mainland prisons that hold about one-third of Hawaii’s inmate population, according to a recent report from the Auditor’s Office.

The news comes at a time when state lawmakers have set aside money to reopen the Kulani Correctional Facility on the the Big Island as a part of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s push to bring Hawaii’s inmates home.

A number of lawsuits have been lodged against the state and its private prison contractor in Arizona alleging poor conditions, abuse and even mismanagement resulting in the death of inmates.

The new auditor’s report is a follow-up to a 2010 audit that blasted the Hawaii Department of Public Safety for circumventing procurement law to give a non-competitive contract to Corrections Corporation of America while at the same time providing “misleading” numbers to state lawmakers about the cost-effectiveness of keeping Hawaii’s inmates in Arizona.

About 2,000 Hawaii inmates are held at CCA facilities in Arizona.

While DPS has corrected some issues, the Auditor’s Office found there are still several areas where the agency falls short, leaving open the possibility of future problems.

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