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Sen. Espero speaks out on Kulani closure

 Sen. Will Espero has written to the governor, urging her to use the facility for women inmates. Espero’s letter appears courtesy of www.hawaiisenatemajority.com:

Dear Governor Lingle,

I am writing to express my disappointment in the decision to close Kulani Correctional Facility. I know we are facing difficult financial times, but giving up a correctional facility for an at-risk youth facility is not the best trade-off in my opinion. I understand federal funds will help pay for the Youth Challenge Academy, but in time, those funds will ikely end and we will have to pay the full cost.

I believe a better use of Kulani Correctional Facility would be to return and house most of the women from Kentucky. With the allegations of sexual assault still unresolved, the availability of a correctional facility comes at an opportune time.

Originally, inmates were sent to the mainland due to overcrowding, not cost factors. Since the Department of Public Safety can move Kulani inmates to other facilities, an empty facility becomes available. This is a perfect opportunity to take the millions of dollars we are spending in Kentucky and inject those millions into the Big Island. It will not only keep PSD workers employed but will also be a boost to the economy.

Governor, I ask you to delay the closure of Kulani until a plan can be developed to return the majority of the mainland women prisoners. Because we are talking about 170 inmates, it should not be a difficult task. I would be happy to assist if needed or asked.

Building a new facility on Maui will not happen any time soon if it happens at all. We should not turn Kulani over to another department and remove it from our corrections system. I would be happy to discuss this idea with you as soon as possible.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

Respectfully,

Sen. Will Espero

Chairman, Senate Public Safety & Military Affairs Committee

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