Public Safety officials will update lawmakers next month on the search for a new site to build a new Oahu Community Correctional Center.   They have taken a list of 11 possible sites around Oahu for comment.  But now say they may be expanding that search, after having been told to consider other sites like one near the airport and Waiawa Correctional Facility.

And now, a state lawmaker has introduced a new idea.

Waiawa is a minimum security facility that sits on nearly 200 acres of land in central O’ahu.  There are upwards of 300 inmates housed there on any given day.

A bill going through the legislature calls for a prison to be built there to house three thousand inmates.

Representative Gregg Takayama introduced the bill.

“My idea is to take advantage of the fact that we have space there. Build a prison there, build a prison that’s large enough to house one thousand or so inmates we have at Halawa Prison, bring back the Arizona inmates.”   It would also house the Waiawa inmates as well.

The bill proposes relocating the aging Oahu Community Correctional Center in Kalihi to the present Halawa prison site.

“To me it makes sense.” Said Takayama. “Because if we’re just going to build a new OCCC, it will cost a huge amount of money almost 700 million dollars. So in my personal opinion, if we’re gonna spend a huge amount of money, I say let’s shoot for a solution that enables us to bring back the Arizona inmates. Because we’re spending almost 50 million dollars a year to house them.”

“Gregg has been out front in all or our attempts and efforts towards replacing OCCC,” said Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda.  “Towards addressing our over population and bringing back eventually the mainland population.”

Espinda says Takayama’s idea does all that. 

There are issues.  The site lacks infrastructure. And the 192 acre property is not all flat land.

Espinda says it’s not that far fetched an idea.

“As engineers like to say” said Espinda, “there’s an engineering solution for everything. I think the first step is probably to evaluate it as we would for any possible relocation. And that can occur in this bill—as long as we’re authorized the amount of money necessary to do the study.”

The bill requires the Department of Public Safety  to solicit proposals to build a facility.

The bill has passed first reading... And has been referred to the House public safety and finance committees