Gov. David Ige will announce today the preferred location for Oahu’s new jail is the Animal Quarantine Facility site in Halawa Valley, the Star-Advertiser has learned.
Ige has scheduled a news conference at noon today to officially announce the selection of the site, which was one of four preferred locations for a replacement facility for the aging and inefficient Oahu Community Correctional Center in Kalihi.
The state Department of Agriculture quarantine station property straddles the H-3 freeway, and was rated considerably higher than the other potential sites in part because it is close to the existing Halawa Correctional Facility.
That location would make it easier for the existing prison and the proposed new jail to share some services, and the evaluation also found the quarantine station is convenient for moving inmates to downtown Honolulu courthouses. The site also has “compatible surrounding land uses,” according to a report by a consultant hired to identify and evaluate the various sites.
The other top-ranked locations that were considered included the current OCCC lot, the Halawa Correctional Facility site and “Lot 17” in the Mililani Technology Park.
The animal quarantine property has a buildable land area of about 25 acres, and is already owned by the state, which also helped boost the site in the rankings, according a consultant’s report. The size of the property would allow for a low-rise design for the new jail, which is more efficient to operate and would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs.
A consultant’s report earlier this year listed preliminary cost estimates for the new jail ranging from $433 million for a low-rise facility to $673 million if a high-rise jail were built at the Halawa prison property.
OCCC currently costs $67.3 million a year to operate, and the state could save an estimated $4.8 million a year in reduced staffing costs by developing a more modern low-rise facility, according to the consultants.
State lawmakers have wanted to replace OCCC for years, arguing the jail’s prime 16-acre site in urban Honolulu along the planned rail line ought to be redeveloped.
The aging OCCC is also so extremely overcrowded. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice asking it to investigate the overcrowded conditions, alleging they amount to unconstitutional “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The selection process for the new jail site is being managed by a team that includes Architects Hawaii Ltd. and subcontractor Louis Berger U.S. under a $4.9 million planning and design contract with the state. The quarantine site has been identified as the preferred site in the draft environmental impact statement for the jail project.
The consultants have produced a jail population forecast that concluded the number of male detainees at OCCC will drop from 1,271 at the end of October to 959 in 2026. To house those inmates, the consultants proposed that the new facility have 1,044 detention beds.
The new OCCC is also expected to house low-security pre-release male inmates who are preparing to leave the prison system. The new facility will need 336 beds to house those inmates, according to the report.
Below is a memo about the nearly 2,400-page draft environmental impact statement. To see the entire report, click here.