Look but don't touch. That's essentially the new visitation policy at the Halawa Correctional Facility after prison officials unveiled a new partition Tuesday at the medium security prison.
Click here to watch Andrew Pereira's report.
The partition divides the existing visitation area into 47 windows, where as many as two adult visitors and a child under the age of 5 can meet with individual inmates for up to 45 minutes.
Public Safety director Ted Sakai said the partition was built with the help of inmates at a cost of $100,000. Although inmates have known about the new policy for some time, they were not consulted beforehand.
"I don't know if anybody will challenge us legally, but I'm confident that we'll pass muster," said Sakai.
The no-contact policy hopes to stem the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband into the prison, which averages about 1,000 inmates. Sakai said he should know more about the flow of drugs into the facility in about a month.
Earlier this year, two Halawa adult corrections officers were arrested for allegedly bringing methamphetamine into the prison. James "Kimo" Sanders, 31, pleaded guilty to three charges in March and is scheduled to be sentenced later this month. Mark Damas, 45, is awaiting trial in August.
"Anytime we get information that any staff might be involved, we're going to follow up and investigate," said Sakai. "If we can get the evidence, we're going to get 'em."
Currently, adult corrections officers have their bags screened by other prison guards before reporting for duty. However any further checks such as pat downs must first be cleared by United Public Workers, the union which represents ACOs.
"I've already talked to UPW," said Sakai. "They support the concept; they just need to see the specific procedures."
KITV4 reached out to UPW state director Dayton Nakanelua for comment, but did not receive a reply.
Meanwhile, the no-contact policy at Halawa could also help keep weekend visitations at the prison on track. Since the start of the year, nine visitation days have been cancelled at Halawa because of staffing shortages, which usually means one or more ACOs have called in sick.
"During the contact visits, we usually have six officers assigned up here to conduct the visits," said Maj. Lyle Antonio, Halawa's chief of security. "Now that we have non-contact, we can basically operate with a minimum of four."New changes at Halawa Prison