Hawaii Prisoners Coming Home To… Arizona?

Is it just me or is Governor Neil Abercrombie going a little bit, well, funny in the head? Guy hasn’t been in office long and he’s already running with some delusions of grandeur–namely, his sudden desire to have everyone not recently appointed by him to vacate with undue haste the most powerful boards in the state: Land Use, Aloha Stadium Authority, Board of Land and Natural Resources, et al. Seriously, this is tin-plated dictator stuff: governors appoint people to staggered five-year terms on these boards precisely so a governor can’t dance into office and then run everything by fiat. Hell, even Linda Lingle didn’t try to pull off anything so crude.

But I digress. One of Abercrombie’s promises when he took office was to bring home all 1,700 Hawaii prison inmates currently housed in Arizona prisons run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), one of the largest private prison operators in the nation. Given Abercrombie’s actions cited above, I wasn’t that surprised to read a June 24 press release from the governor’s office saying one of the key ways to bring those inmates out of CCA facilities on the mainland was too–drum roll, please–sign a new $45.5 million contract with CCA to house 1,956 inmates at two CCA prisons in Arizona.

“The return of Hawai`i’s prisoners requires a multi-faceted approach of expanding prison space in Hawai`i, creating alternatives to incarceration and reducing recidivism through community-based programs,” said Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, the state Department of Public Safety director, in the release. “This agreement will give us some flexibility as we continue to our goal of bringing prisoners home.”

See, by signing a new contract with CCA to hold even more Hawaii prisoners, Abercrombie is helping to bring Hawaii prisoners home.

Breathtaking, isn’t it, to watch true politicking in action?


PHOTO: Biswarup Ganguly/Wikimedia Commons

Anthony Pignataro

About Anthony Pignataro

Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He started work as MauiTime's Editor in 2003, took a couple years off starting in 2008, then returned to the staff in 2011. He's the author of "Stealing Cars With The Pros," a 2013 collection of his journalism and the Maui novels "Small Island" (2011) and "The Dead Season" (2012)–all of which were published by Event Horizon Press. In 2014, his one-act play "War Stories" won second place in the Maui Fringe Festival.

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