Hawaii contracts with CCA to house some of its prisoners on the mainland, because they don’t have room for them in prisons on the islands. But their relationship has been marked by problem after problem, from the sexual assaults of women in a prison in Kentucky (after they had been moved there following sexual assaults at ANOTHER CCA prison) and coverups to mistreatment of male prisoners in Arizona. In light of these issues, and a report of the state’s solicitor general that was highly critical of the private prisons housing Hawaiian prisoners the governor has pledged to bring all Hawaiian prisoners home, but has found the process for doing so more difficult than anticipated.
One of the most serious issues that has arisen is the deaths of two young men at the Saguaro prison in Arizona. After a class of prisoners sued the state and CCA over their mistreatment at the facility, the ACLU of HI has just filed a lawsuit against the state and CCA over the death of Bronson Nunuha, who was murdered at the prison. The 26-year-old’s death is being challenged as preventable; the ACLU of Hawaii claims the state and CCA were both negligent, leading to his wrongful death. Nunuha was even being held in segregated confinement, where he was separated from the general population, but even that wasn’t enough to prevent him from being murdered only months before he was set to be released; only 1 guard was responsible for overseeing about 50 prisoners. The lawsuit contends that CCA’s “unchecked hunger for profits” led the company to cut staffing to such unacceptably low levels as to allow for Nunuha’s murder.
Unfortunately for the state, which gives the company $10 million annually to allow its citizens to be murdered, their own officials have faced significant difficulties in trying to extract information from the facility. The aforementioned report of the Solicitor General noted major obstacles the agency encountered in trying to conduct an investigation of conditions Hawaiian prisoners were housed in. Maybe it’s because CCA doesn’t give a shit about the people it houses, and does everything possible to prevent governments from seeing just how poorly their tax dollars are being spent.