New 80-Unit Medium Security Housing Proposed at MCCC
By Wendy Osher
The state Department of Public Safety is proposing construction of a new medium security housing unit at the Maui Community Correctional Center to accommodate up to 80 inmates.
The project is aimed at addressing the crowded conditions, and is not intended to increase the inmate population beyond its current number. Instead, inmates housed in cramped conditions and in spaces not well suited for inmates would be accommodated.
According to a Draft Environmental Assessment for the project, there was a finding of No Significant Impact.
The Maui Community Correctional Center had an original design capacity for 209 beds. As of November 2018, the number of inmates housed at MCCC was 415–that’s 38% above the current operational capacity of 301 beds.
The Draft EA (AFNSI) document notes that MCCC was originally built in a relatively isolated location, but the town of Wailuku has since grown “around and beyond the facility.” MCCC has been expanded from its original two-acre site to the current 7.23 acres.
Planning, design and construction for the proposed project is estimated to cost $7.5 million. The Draft EA states that construction is preliminary scheduled to begin in 2020 and be completed in 2021.
The request comes following a riot at the facility in on Monday, March 11, 2019. Department officials have pointed towards overcrowding as the likely cause. Emergency repairs following the jail riot were estimated to cost $5.3 million.
The history of the site was also detailed in the Draft EA:
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“MCCC is located on the grounds of the old Maui Jail which was transferred to the State of Hawaiʻi in 1973. Recent developments include a new main jail facility constructed in 1994, a 32-bed dormitory constructed in 1995, and a 110-bed community release facility constructed in 1997. MCCC is the only correctional facility serving Maui County, which includes the islands of Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi, and acts as the local detention center for the Second Circuit Court.”
Prior to the construction of the current facility on Waiʻale Road, the old Wailuku Jail was located a short distance away on High Street. It also experienced issues at the time with inmate overcrowding as documented in the Draft EA:
“The old Wailuku jail site which was in downtown Wailuku on High Street (Figure 12), did not experience any significant changes until the early 20th century. In 1904, following Hawai‘i’s inclusion as a Territory of the United States, the newly established Maui County, submitted a request for a new facility to address inmate overcrowding, which was a direct result of the large number of arrests of plantation laborers. A year later, in 1905, the Report of the Superintendent of Public Works, C.S. Holloway informed the Governor of the Territory of Hawaii, Geo R. Carter of the award.”
In terms of the existing conditions, the document contained the following information:
“Based on the analysis of existing conditions, all buildings comprising MCCC need replacement and/or major renovation or repair. Furthermore, most of the support and program components were rated as inadequate functionally and operationally to maintain the current population.”
The findings were published in The Environmental Notice, compiled by the Office of Environmental Quality Control. A 60-day public review and comment period has started, with comments due by July 22, 2019.