Prison to begin no-contact visits at Halawa medium security prison

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Apr 23 2014 05:49:24 PM HST
Updated On: Apr 23 2014 08:41:11 PM HST

Hawaii prisons are aiming to prevent visitors from smuggling in contraband to inmates.

HONOLULU -

The recent arrest of two Halawa corrections officers for smuggling meth into the prison raised eyebrows and triggered increased drug testing of inmates.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz' story.

KITV has learned the measures for controlling contraband aren’t stopping there.

"We know some contraband comes through visitors and we really need to tighten up on that,"said Public Safety Director Ted Sakai.

Starting next month the prison plans to install 60 partitions in the visiting room at the Halawa medium security facility.

"We are going to be installing non-contact visits which means like in the movies inmates will be on one side, and visitors will on the other so they will not be able to pass things from one person to another," said Sakai.

Sakai said to save on costs the work is being done in-house using inmate labor in the corrections industries shop.

We're told partitions are already in place at the Halawa high security facility.

There are no plans to expand the use of video visits like in some mainland facilities.

Prison officials also think they'll be able to get a handle on inmate suicides.

This week lawmakers agreed to fund 20 positions for suicide watch programs.

"Mental health is such an issue for us. We have a significant number of inmates and we are responsible for their care and treatment while they are with us and we absolutely need the resources to do this," said Sakai.

The director said the department is continuing to keep a close eye on possible illegal activities of correctional officers.

"We have to remain vigilant. We continue to work with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to track any kind of leads we have, whether its inmates, or families, or staff." Sakai said.

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