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Lingle vetoes bill calling for audit of prison contract

Gov. Linda Lingle has vetoed a bill that calls for a financial and management audit of the state’s contract to house Hawaii prisoners at a private Corrections Corporation of America prison on the mainland.

Lingle said today that the bill would force the state auditor to go beyond her duties and make a policy judgment about whether Hawaii should continue to send prisoners to the mainland.

The bill also asks the auditor to address the Lingle administration’s closure of Kulani Correctional Facility on the Big Island last year and the housing of prisoners at the federal detention center in Honolulu.

Lingle said the audit would duplicate an independent audit regularly conducted on the finances of the state Department of Public Safety.

“The bill is ineffective because it proposes no solutions to the problems previously identified over many years regarding the lack of funds and facilities to house prisoners in Hawaii,” the governor said.

Hawaii sends prisoners to the mainland because of the lack of prison space in the Islands and because it is less expensive.

State lawmakers have cited the recent deaths of two Hawaii prisoners at Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona as an example of why an audit is necessary.

State House and Senate leaders have not decided whether to return for a one-day veto override session in July.

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