Hawaiian prison getting $9.9M locking system
Electronic door locking systems for the state's largest prison have begun to fail after 28 years of use
By Kevin Dayton
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
HONOLULU, Hawaii — The electronic door locking systems for the state's largest prison have begun to fail after 28 years of use, and prison officials plan to replace them next year with a new high-tech, $9.9 million security system.
The state plans to move about 250 inmates from Halawa Correctional Facility to a prison on the mainland early next year to clear out portions of Halawa so work can start on the replacement of the obsolete Hawaii locking system.
Halawa's push-button locking system began failing in several sections of the prison in November, forcing corrections officers to use keys to manually open doors in the administrative central control area, the inmate work-line area, the medical area and the special holding area of the prison, said Toni Schwartz, public information officer for the Department of Public Safety.
"We had an issue with the current system malfunctioning," Schwartz said. "It's old. It's the original system that was in place when the building was opened in 1987."
Prison officials say the problem with the locks never posed a security risk, and the system did not fail in any of the inmate housing areas.
Planning was already underway to replace the old locking system, but the state had to spend $200,000 to $300,000 to install new equipment as a temporary fix in the areas where the locks failed last year, Schwartz said.
In addition to the $9.9 million price tag for the new system, the state will spend an additional $5.8 million over the next two years moving and housing the 250 inmates on the mainland while contractors work on the Halawa facility.
The plan is to clear out one module, replace the locks in that area and then move inmates in from another module so the locks can be replaced there, she said.
Prison officials expect to transfer inmates to the mainland in February to clear the first module, and will begin work on the locking systems in March. The project should be completed in 16 months, Schwartz said.
The new setup will be a touch-screen system that is "very modern, the state-of-the-art newest stuff," Schwartz said.
The state already holds about 1,300 inmates in Arizona prisons operated by Corrections Corp. of America, and spent $33.9 million last year to contract with CCA to house those convicts, according to state procurement records.