Video courtesy Office of the Governor
Press release courtesy Hawaii Department of Public Safety:
HONOLULU – The Hawai‘i Department of Public Safety announced today that it is closing the Kulani Correctional Facility on the Big Island because of the state’s unprecedented $2.8 billion budget shortfall as a result of the global economic downturn.
“This was not an easy decision. However, it is my duty and responsibility to find cost-savings and streamline our operations, especially during these tough economic times,” said Clayton Frank, director of the Department of Public Safety.
After evaluating the operations of the entire department and specifically within the Corrections Division, the department determined that the most cost-effective action was to close the Kulani Correctional Facility.
“It is not fiscally feasible to continue to operate Kulani while the state continues to look for ways to close the budget gap,” said Frank.
It currently costs the department $6 million a year to operate and maintain the Kulani facility. Closing the facility will result in savings of approximately $2.8 million.
Kulani currently houses 123 male inmates. They will be moved to other correctional facilities within the department and the Federal Detention Center on O‘ahu. There are no plans for early release of these inmates.
“I want to emphasize that this closure is not a reflection of the 76 people currently employed at Kulani. They are and have been hard-working and dedicated public servants,” said Frank.
“We recognize this action will have a serious impact on the employees and their families. But the difficult decision was necessary because of the current downturn of the economy and ensuing budgetary constraints upon the department.”
To ensure the Kulani facility will be used productively for the benefit of the state and the Big Island community, the Department of Public Safety is currently working with the Hawai‘i Department of Defense (DOD) on a Memorandum of Agreement for the land to be utilized for the DOD’s Hawai‘i National Guard Youth Challenge program.
The Hawai‘i National Guard’s Youth Challenge Academy program provides at-risk students who otherwise would not obtain a high school diploma with an opportunity to attend a 22-week curriculum designed to turn their lives around. Since 1995, over 2,500 students who have participated in the Youth Challenge Academy have earned their High School diplomas.
Currently located at Kalaeloa, O‘ahu, the Youth Challenge Academy conducts two classes per year averaging about 150 students per class. For every student that is allowed into the program, another at-risk student is turned away because of limited facilities and staff.
“The National Guard Bureau supports the Hawai‘i National Guard having a second campus to handle the students that we turn away,” said State Adjutant General Major General Robert Lee. “At least 35 percent of our students come from the neighbor islands. The potential to establish the Kulani Youth Challenge Academy on the Big Island is a viable option for the Hawai‘i National Guard.”