East Hawaii News

Pu`uhonua Among Topics at Meeting on Kulani Reopening

January 22, 2013, 5:49 PM HST
* Updated January 22, 6:04 PM
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Queries about establishing a pu`uhonua, or place of refuge, were among the topics discussed today during the first of two public meetings being held on the proposed reopening of the Kulani Correctional Facility.

Officials from the state Department of Public Safety are holding the meetings to discuss the plan and the draft environmental assessment for the project.

Nearly 100 people attended the meeting at the Aupuni Center. Many of the questions centered on creation of a pu`uhonua or other form of wellness center as part of efforts to reduce recidivism.

According to Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz, the department is willing to explore those options after the facility is reopened.

The meeting  included a presentation by Pacific Architects, Inc., the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based firm hired to do an assessment of current conditions at Kulani.

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Representatives of the company said the assessment found that the facility would need only minor repairs but would require new kitchen equipment as well as electrical upgrades.

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According to the environmental assessment, it would cost about $600,000 to renovate the facility.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has proposed reactivating Kulani, which was closed in 2009, to house about 200 Hawaii inmates currently incarcerated on the mainland. Prisoners housed there would be those eligible for release or parole within four years.

The other public meeting on the Kulani plan will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Keaau Community Center.

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