East Hawaii News

State Begins Process of Reopening Kulani Prison

August 24, 2012, 5:58 PM HST
* Updated August 27, 10:50 AM
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie today released funding to begin the reactivation of the Big Island’s Kulani Correctional Facility.

The $248,177 appropriation will be used to do environmental studies and to assess infrastructure needs at the rural facility, said Abercrombie spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz.

Known informally as the “prison without walls,” the minimum security facility located on the slopes of Mauna Loa at the end of Stainback Highway was closed in September 2009.

Then-Gov. Linda Lingle closed Kulani as a cost-cutting measure, saying the move would save the state at least $2.8 million annually.

Critics of Kulani’s closing said the facility had one of the most successful sexual offender treatment programs in the nation.

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Abercrombie has been considering reopening Kulani to help in his plan to bring back to Hawai`i at least some of the state’s prisoners currently incarcerated in private prisons on the mainland.

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After the prison closed the facility was used for the Hawai`i National Guard’s Youth Challenge Academy, a training camp for at-risk teens.

Last year, the Abercrombie administration began looking at Kulani for the housing of up to 200 prisoners with an emphasis on vocational and educational training.

The Kulani funding was part of $52.5 million released by the governor today for capital improvement projects that include $43 million for expansion of car rental facilities at Honolulu International Airport, and $2.2 million to study improvements of the state’s interisland fiber-optic communication cable system.

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