HONOLULU (KHON2) — After years of planning, the Department of Public Safety (PSD) broke ground to start improvements to the Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC).

The Kailua facility is the only one in Hawaii that serves the needs of pre-trial and sentenced female offenders.

“This long-awaited project will provide women with better access to services and improved living conditions. The new addition will also help ease some of the overcrowding at OCCC,” Gov. David Ige said. “As the state’s largest jail, OCCC’s primary population is male pre-trial detainees, and it’s a daily challenge to house females within the jail and provide program space.”

Improvements include a new 176-bed housing unit, an administration building to replace the current one, a visitation/intake building, improved parking and improved access to/from Kalanianaole Highway. The changes were agreed on in 2018 when the Hawaii Legislature appropriated $40 million for new consolidated housing and other related improvements to WCCC to allow for the transfer of all female pre-trial detainees from the Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC).

PSD says the relocation will help improve living conditions, expand treatment and services for women.

“Improving WCCC to accommodate females from OCCC has been a goal of the Department for many years,” said PSD Director Max Otani, “and today we’re taking a giant step toward realizing that goal. An upgraded and expanded WCCC will help us house the current population while providing the critical space and resources that female offenders need to successfully return to their communities.”

Construction is expected to take approximately two years.