Delay on Mainland Prison-building

All the more reason to develop prison alternatives, folks…by all means, though, get them out of Arizona. We’re just killing them here...


New Prison Contract Overdue
Hawaii Reporter
Friday, May 27th, 2011
Posted by Jim Dooley

BY JIM DOOLEY – Although Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said repeatedly he wants to halt out-of-state incarceration of Hawaii prison inmates, the state is finalizing the award of a new, three-year contract for Mainland imprisonment of up to 2,000 convicts.

The contractor selection was supposed to be made at the beginning of this week, but a public safety official said the issue was still being finalized.

A spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the company that owns a private Arizona prison where some 1,900 Hawaii medium security inmates have been held, said he could not comment because contractor selection is still underway.

Abercrombie and other officials say new prison space, owned by the state or a private partner, needs to be developed here.

The new Mainland prison contract award is s being made against the backdrop of recent studies by the Hawaii Auditor and the Arizona Department of Corrections which question the true costs to taxpayers of privately-operated prisons.

CCA’s current agreement to house Hawaii inmates at Saguaro Correctional Center expires June 30.

The new contract is to take effect July 1 and last three years, with two possible annual extensions beyond that, according to the bid request published by the state earlier this year.

The state can cancel the contract with three months’ notice.

At present, the state is paying CCA $63.22 per day for each of the 1,900 or so inmates held at Saguaro, which is located in Eloy, Arizona, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.

Saguaro Correctional Facility (Hawaii Auditor Photo)

The present contract has an automatic escalator clause in the per diem rate and the charge has risen between two and three per cent annually since 2007, when it was set at $57, according to a December 2010 report Prison Audit from the office of Hawaii Auditor Marion Higa.

Costs to Hawaii for Mainland incarcerations have more than tripled since 2001, rising from just under $20 million annually to more than $60 million, according to Higa’s audit.

In-state prison expenses were more than $167 million last year.

Higa’s study was harshly critical of the state Public Safety Department’s reports to the Legislature on prison costs, saying the department used different methods to calculate in-state and out-of-state expenses.

“Management chooses to report artificial cost figures derived from a calculation based on a flawed methodology, designed entirely on what is easiest for the department to report,” Higa said.

“Because funding is virtually guaranteed, management is indifferent to the needs of policymakers and the public for accurate and reliable cost information. As a result, true costs are unknown,” said the audit, which was prepared before the Abercrombie administration took office.

One of the audit’s complaints was that didn’t use exact inmate counts for its in-state expense numbers, instead basing its reporting on the total number of prisoners that could be held in state-owned prisons.

And some overhead and administrative costs assigned to in-state operations should have been counted as out-of-state costs, Higa found.

Each bookkeeping method increased the costs of in-state incarcerations and decreased out-of-state costs, Higa said.

A recently-released study by the Arizona Department of Corrections of that state’s contracts with private prisons reached some of the same conclusions.

The study did not include the Saguaro facility. No Arizona prisoners are held there.

Like Higa’s study, the Arizona the report found that per diem rates charged by private prisons did not include “inmate management” expenses which the state also had to pay for privately-incarcerated inmates.

“As a result, the ‘real’ costs for private contract beds are understated in comparison to the reported costs for state beds,” the report said.

And the report pointed out that private prisons are selective about the types of inmates they accept.

Prisoners with severe physical or mental health problems are either not accepted by the private contractors or their treatment expenses are billed separately to the state, the report said.

That’s the situation with Hawaii’s CCA contract, according to Higa’s report and language in the new contract bid.

One factor in deciding whether to ship a Hawaii prisoner to Arizona is that there are “no medical or

Halawa Correctional Facility (Hawaii Auditor Photo)

mental health conditions that may affect an inmate’s ability to function within a normal range,” Higa reported.

The pending contract requires the vendor to pay the costs of routine “medical, mental health, and dental service.”

But some expenses must be paid by the state, including hospital physician reimbursements, surgeries and other “invasive procedures” and procedures involving anesthesiology, the contract language stipulates.

In those cases, the contractor must pay the first $2,000, but the state is responsible for the balance, according to the contract.

In a response to Higa’s audit, newly-appointed Public Safety Department director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata made it clear that no matter how the numbers are sliced and diced, private prisons are cheaper than Hawaii lock-ups.

Maesaka-Hirata is a leading advocate for bringing Hawaii inmates home to local prisons or to expanded community release programs.

She told Higa the price for 1,000 or so inmates now imprisoned at the Halawa Correctional Facility is double what it would be if they were held in Arizona (assuming the private prison would accept them).

Hawaii, Outsourcing Prisoners, and the Death Penalty.

Another great piece from Vorsino in Honolulu. It comes via Ken’s list-serve at Private Corrections Working Group. Hit them up for rap sheets on CCA and all these private prison profiteers, too.

This is a fascinating article about the implications of shipping one’s prisoners out of state – in this case, from Hawaii, which abolished the death penalty, to Arizona, which employs it with glee. It comes down to what we value most – life or profit/”savings”. If Hawaiians value life, they’ll bring their people home sooner rather than later, and keep them there.

Sad to say, but Arizonans don’t value life that much. Not the lives of people of color, indigenous and otherwise. Nor the lives of children, the poor, the elderly, the disabled…

These journalists in Honolulu rock…follow them for news as the Hawaiian prisoner murders unfold.


2 inmates could face death penalty in killing

By Mary Vorsino

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 16, 2010


Two Hawaii inmates charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a fellow Hawaii inmate at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona could face the death penalty if convicted.

The two are the first to face capital punishment for a crime committed in a private prison on the mainland since Hawaii started housing inmates out of state in 1995.

Because Hawaii has no death penalty, some legal advocates say the case could be unprecedented in the nation. Some also argue the situation raises new questions about the practice of sending inmates out of state to serve their sentences.

State Department of Public Safety officials say they are monitoring the case, but it doesn’t appear they plan to step in to urge Arizona to take the death penalty off the table.

“When you commit a crime in a different state, it’s a crime that is addressed with that state,” said DPS Director Clayton Frank. “We abide by the laws of that respective state.”

The two inmates — Miti Maugaotega Jr., 24, and Micah Kanahele, 29 — were indicted on first-degree murder and gang-related charges May 20 in the killing of Bronson Nunuha, 26, who was found in his cell at Saguaro on Feb. 18 with multiple stab wounds.

Maugaotega was serving a life sentence for first-degree attempted murder in the June 2003 shooting of Punchbowl resident Eric Kawamoto. Kanahele was serving two 20-year sentences for the October 2003 shooting deaths of Greg Morishima at his Aiea home and Guylan Nuuhiwa in a Pearl City parking lot a week later.

Nunuha was behind bars for three counts of second-degree burglary.

News that Maugaotega and Kanahele could face the death penalty comes as the state is investigating a second killing of a Hawaii inmate at Saguaro.

Clifford Medina, 23, was killed June 8 at Saguaro, and his cellmate, also a Hawaii inmate, is in custody in connection with the case.

Yesterday, Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, the acting governor while Gov. Linda Lingle is traveling in Asia, said the killings highlight the need to take a closer look at security at Saguaro and could prompt the state to move inmates from the facility.

But he said he would have to do more research before weighing in on whether the state should voice opposition on the two inmates facing the death penalty.

Some 1,871 male Hawaii inmates are at Saguaro, a 1,897-bed prison in Eloy, Ariz., owned by Corrections Corp. of America. About 50 more are at a separate CCA prison in Arizona.

The state spends about $61 million a year to house male inmates on the mainland because there is not enough room for them at Hawaii prisons. Last year, allegations by female Hawaii inmates of widespread sexual abuse by guards and employees at a CCA facility in Kentucky prompted the state to pull all 168 of its female inmates from the prison and bring them back to the islands to serve their time.

A spokesman with the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the Nunuha case, said the death penalty is within sentencing guidelines in a first-degree murder case.

He declined further comment because the case is ongoing.

Fifteen states, including Hawaii, do not have the death penalty.

state Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said the Nunuha case could prompt more discussion on the implications of shipping Hawaii inmates out of state.

Espero added he wants to learn more about the killing before trying to determine whether the state should stand in the way of a death penalty sentencing.

“Quite frankly, it was a cold-blooded murder,” he said. “I’m sure you will find people in Hawaii that say they deserve (to face) the death penalty.”

But, he added, “these cases really do show the need to come up with a plan to bring home our prisoners one day.”

Opponents of the death penalty say the case raises legal questions. In a statement, ACLU Hawaii said it hopes Arizona will “respect Hawaii’s history and tradition of rejecting capital punishment in their treatment of Hawaii’s inmates.”

ACLU also said Nunuha’s killing is “just one of a morbid series of events showing the need for independent oversight” of CCA’s contract with Hawaii. The group urged the governor to sign a bill into law that calls for an audit of the state’s contract with CCA.

Arizona: Hawaiian prisoner murder investigation.

Isle inmate’s death sparks investigation

By Mary Adamski

POSTED: 01:30 a.m.
HST, Jun 11, 2010
The Honolulu Star Advertiser

The second death this year of a Hawaii inmate in an Arizona prison is setting off alarm bells with the state Department of Public Safety and lawmakers who want to scrutinize the arrangement of outsourcing local felons to privately operated mainland lockups.

Two investigators from the Public Safety Department will leave next week for Eloy, Ariz., where about 1,900 Hawaii prisoners are held at Saguaro Correctional Center.

No cause of death has been released yet for Clifford Medina, 23, who was found unresponsive in his cell Tuesday morning. An emergency medical services team tried unsuccessfully to revive him, according to a brief statement from the Corrections Corp. of America, which operates Saguaro.

“It is critical for us to find out what the autopsy says,” said Public Safety Director Clayton Frank. “If this was something where we knew a person had a health-related reason, it would be one thing. But this is out of the ordinary because of his age. … From what we got from the facility, the cellmate called officials indicating (Medina) was unresponsive.”

State investigators also went to Arizona after Bronson Nunuha, 26, was found dead from multiple stab wounds in his cell Feb. 18. He was the first Hawaii inmate killed in a private mainland prison since 1995, when the state began shipping prisoners away.

“What we found that time was the facility did whatever it could have done,” Frank said. “I think they responded appropriately under the circumstances.”

Two Hawaii inmates were indicted three weeks ago on capital murder charges for Nunuha’s death. They are Miti Maugaotega Jr., 24, serving a life sentence for first-degree attempted murder in the June 2003 shooting of Punchbowl resident Eric Kawamoto, and Micah Kanahele, 29, serving two 20-year sentences for the October 2003 shooting deaths of Greg Morishima at his Aiea home and Guylan Nuuhiwa in a Pearl City parking lot a week later.

The judge originally gave Maugaotega 11 life sentences for several charges stemming from the Punchbowl break-in and an earlier burglary in which he sexually assaulted and beat a 55-year-old woman.

The state Legislature sent to Gov. Linda Lingle for review a bill calling for an independent audit of the state’s contract with Corrections Corp.

“We need to re-evaluate the security and safety of Saguaro and our inmates and see if this is the best place and time to house our inmates,” said Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee.

Medina was sent to Arizona about six months ago, Frank said. He was serving time for first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer, two counts of second-degree burglary, second-degree theft and bail jumping. He would have been eligible for parole in 2012.

Nunuha, who was incarcerated for three counts of second-degree burglary, was scheduled to return to the islands in a few months to prepare for his release on Oct. 31.

Another Hawaii inmate dead at CCA Eloy Prison

Investigators Look Into Inmate Death

Hawaii Inmate Housed In Ariz. Prison

POSTED: 5:36 pm HST June 9, 2010

UPDATED: 6:18 pm HST June 9, 2010

HONOLULU — State public safety investigators are heading to Arizona to look into the death of a Hawaii inmate at a private prison.

Clifford Medina, 23, is the second Hawaii inmate to die at the Saquaro Correctional Facility in Eloy, Ariz., in five months.

Public safety director Clayton Frank said Medina was found unresponsive in his cell at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

His cause of death has not yet been determined.

Medina was serving time for multiple offenses including assault against a law enforcement officer, second-degree theft, second-degree burglary and third-degree assault.

On Feb. 18, Bronson Nunuha, of Maui, was killed at the prison.

Two other Hawaii inmates have been charged with murder in Nunuha’s death.