Hawaii moves forward with plan to move crowded Oahu jail

HONOLULU — Hawaii officials are planning to relocate an overcrowded and deteriorating jail on Oahu next to the state prison in Honolulu.

Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday the plans to rebuild the Oahu Community Correctional Center on a new site after he and the state Office of Environmental Quality Control accepted the environmental review for the project.

The state is planning to move the jail to the current site of the state’s Animal Quarantine Station in Halawa, which is near the Halawa Correctional Facility.

“The existing jail at Dillingham and Pu?uhale is severely overcrowded and in disrepair,” Ige said in a statement. “Building a new correctional facility is one of my top priorities.”

The current facility in Honolulu’s Kalihi neighborhood was constructed to hold 954 people, but it had 1,222 detainees as of Tuesday. The new jail is expected to have beds for 1,335 inmates.

Relocating the current jail also allows redevelop opportunities for its land, which is next to the planned rail route.

“Moving OCCC to Halawa is also a tremendous opportunity to reposition Kalihi for the future, when the land along the rail route will be used for new economic development, affordable housing, and open spaces as envisioned by the community,” Ige said.

The project is estimated to cost $525 million, which includes the new jail facility and the relocation of the quarantine station.

The jail’s female inmates are planned to be transferred to the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua.

Updating the jail has been a goal of the state Department of Public Safety for more than a decade, Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda told the Honolulu-Star-Advertiser.

“OCCC is severely outdated and overcrowded and because of this, the possibility of federal oversight is always looming over us,” Espinda said. “A new OCCC would help us house the current population while providing the critical program space and resources necessary to help inmates successfully return to their communities.”

Funding for the project will need to be secured from the state Legislature. Officials hope to have the project completed by the end of 2023.

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