Costly error keeps hundreds of Hawaii inmates on the mainland

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A major construction delay at Halawa Correctional Facility will keep hundreds of Hawaii inmates on the mainland, and cost millions of our tax dollars.

A project to replace the electronic locking system at the state’s largest prison was supposed to done last December.

The state told us Thursday that the main reason for the delay was problems with existing wiring, and a subcontractor that was hired suddenly ceased operations after work had already started.

In a statement, the Department of Accounting and General Services said:

“The primary cause of the delay in completing the project is due to the issues with the existing wiring for the security equipment including the existing wiring of the cell doors which are electronically controlled.

“To date, these problems have been encountered in two of the four modules in this project. DAGS has been working with its consultant and contractor to design a solution to these wiring issues. Due to the complexity of the problem and critical security requirement for the reliability of the security electronics equipment for the cell doors, PSD (Department of Public Safety) and DAGS has decided to install new wiring for the security electronics system at all four housing modules.

“Another cause of the delay, which has been rectified through the replacement of a subcontractor, was the delay caused due to one of the contractor’s subcontractors ceasing operations in Hawaii while the project was in progress.”

We’re told the cost of the project is now around $13.25 million, which is more than $3 million higher than what we were told in 2016, right before the project began.

The extra time will cost another $6.7 million, and that has nothing to do with the renovations.

The money is needed to house the 246 inmates that had to be relocated to Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona while the work was being done.

For them to stay through December, it will cost the state about $27,000 per inmate.

Requests for additional funding were submitted as follows:

Emergency Appropriation for FY 2018 (6 months): January 2018 – June 2018 ($3,361,139)
SUP19 Budget Request (3 months): July 2018 – September 2018 ($1,704,404)
Governor’s Message Item (3 months in FY 2019): October 2018 – December 2018 ($1,704,404)
While lawmakers will have to approve the added costs, it’s unlikely that they’ll deny the funding requests, since there’s no other facility in Hawaii that can take in the inmates.

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