Hawaii Officials Move Forward with $40 Million WCCC Expansion

By Aziza Jackson

KAILUA, Hawaii — Hawaii officials have set aside $40 million for an expansion project at the Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC), the only women’s prison in the state.

According to Hawaii News Now, construction of the new 180-bed housing facility in Kailua will allow for the transfer of all female pre-trial detainees from the Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) in an effort to address overcrowding at Hawaii’s largest jail facility.

The OCCC is currently situated on 16 acres in urban Honolulu and will be relocated to the Animal Quarantine Station site in Halawa at the end of 2023. The 950-bed facility currently houses pre-trial detainees and provides reintegration programming for male sentenced felons.

Hawaii News Now reports that one reason for the relocation is to provide more access to rehabilitation programs for the 161 women that are currently at OCCC.

In addition to being the only women’s prison in Hawaii, WCCC also serves the needs of pre-trial and sentenced female offenders. The facility houses female offenders who are of maximum, medium and minimum custody levels.

WCCC currently offers a 50-bed gender responsive, substance abuse therapeutic community called Ke Alaula. Other WCCC offerings include a cognitive-based curriculum, parenting and educational classes, domestic violence treatment, day reporting and electronic monitoring programs.

“I believe that we have a lot of good programming that we can afford to the women (as) part of the rehabilitative process — various things from sewing to culinary to hydroponics,” said WCCC Warden Eric Tanaka to Hawaii News Now.

WCCC reportedly houses 226 sentenced felons right now. Corrections officials are challenged with bringing pre-trial detainees from OCCC into WCCC, a prison for convicted felons.

“Obviously we’re going to have to keep them separated,” said Tanaka to Hawaii News Now. “The big challenge is how do we do that because we only have one medical unit that has to accommodate both.”

Construction on the new WCCC housing facility is reportedly scheduled to start in August 2020. The work is reportedly expected to be finished by June 2022.

A report from Hawaii News Now contributed to this story.