Oahu Community Correctional Center’s days could be numbered, as the city and state say it’s time for a new facility.
The Kalihi jail was built in 1916 on what was then undeveloped land, but now almost 100 years later, it’s right in the middle of a bustling neighborhood, near schools, churches and homes.
It’s no secret OCCC is overcrowded and getting old. Lawmakers say it’s time to start thinking about taking the jail out of Kalihi and putting it somewhere else.
“It’s not serving its purpose and it hasn’t for several decades,” said Rep. Gregg Takayama, chair of the House Committee on Public Safety. “The bottom line is that OCCC has outlived its usefulness and we’ve known that for many years now.”
The talks have gone on for years and the question still remains what should be done to the aging correctional center that’s overcrowded and outdated.
“You do have a prison right next to a neighborhood and an elementary school so you can tell it’s an old design,” said Honolulu City Councilmember Joey Manahan.
Should it be remodeled? Can more buildings be added? What about building a new correctional center in another location?
“We think it should be moved to the grounds of Halawa prison,” said Takayama.
Takayama says he envisions an OCCC that houses 1,500 inmates in a multistory highrise, right next to Halawa Correctional Facility.
Last year the state provided $5 million to get the ball rolling. So what will that money go towards?
“For the governor and (Department of) Public Safety to begin planning and design of a new OCCC,” said Takayama. “That money is being released now and we hope they come back next year with some firm plans on the design and the financing plan on how we can pay for it.”
The area where OCCC is now could be redeveloped if the plans go through.
“It would open the space up for us to be able to put other things in there such as affordable housing or senior housing which we really need in this neighborhood,” said Manahan.
While it will still be a while before any final decision is made on OCCC, it seems all parties involved want to see something happen sooner rather than later.
“The idea of moving OCCC is one of the few issues that the governor, legislators and the city all agree is something that should be done,” said Takayama.