Big Island jail gets $600K to treat inmates with mental disorders, addictions


HILO — The Hawaii Community Correction Center has been awarded a $597,576 grant to help inmates with mental disorders and drug addictions prepare to re-enter society.

The U.S. Department of Justice grant will fund a two-year program that will include disorder treatment and counseling during incarceration. Once they are released, the participants will be connected with social services and support groups.

The program will begin next month at Hale Nani Correctional Facility in Panaewa, and involve about 80 inmates a year, said Arthur Pinkney, Hawaii County re-entry program clinical supervisor.

The participants will be between six and 12 months and a year from release.

The goal is to reduce recidivism, said Pinkney, noting that the transition out of incarceration can be difficult.

That’s multiplied for those with mental health and substance abuse problems, he said.

“It hits you all at once the day you are released,” Pinkney said. “People get overwhelmed, and their stress levels bring back the same old behavior.”

Pinkney said the facility had a similar program that only focused on the post-release transition until November when another grant ran out.

The new grant will provide counselling during incarceration for the first time, he said.

He said the new program will help to better “stack the deck in their favor.”

The facility will rehire two people laid off when the previous grant ran out, add a new staff member and establish two new subcontracts to begin the program, Pinkney said.

Participants will stay in the program for six months after they are released.

HCCC has 308 inmates, with 101 at Hale Nani, said a state Department of Safety spokeswoman.

Pinkney said the program is being held at Hale Nani due to space, rather than the larger facility in Hilo.