State senate kills bill to buy federal jail in Honolulu

Two state Senate committees on Tuesday killed a bill that proposed the purchase of the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, a measure aimed at easing overcrowding at state facilities.

The committees on Government Operations and Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs deferred House Bill 1177, which was introduced by Oahu Rep. Gregg Takayama.

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Takayama proposed the purchase of the 20-year-old FDC, located by the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, as an alternative to the proposed construction of a new Oahu jail at a cost of more than a half-billion dollars — an expense that would be borne by all Hawaii taxpayers, whether directly or by repayment of construction bonds.

All state-operated correctional facilities are overcrowded.

Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo, which has a designed bed capacity of 206, housed 384 inmates — 315 men and 69 women — as of Dec. 31.

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Lawmakers in 2016 approved $21 million for new inmate housing at HCCC. The money, which would have to be released by Gov. David Ige for construction to occur, would cover housing, a new support building and electronic and security upgrades for the overcrowded jail.

The current capital improvement budget contains a request by DPS for $8.1 million for new medium-security housing at HCCC.

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