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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Let new administration make jail decision

Until the moment of her swearing in, Linda Lingle is not governor and Ben Cayetano is. So he still has the right to make gubernatorial decisions as he sees fit.

But since transition is less than a month away, it is imperative that the transfer of power go smoothly.

We're pleased to hear from the Lingle camp that relations with the Cayetano administration have been cordial. In that spirit, it is crucial the Cayetano administration sit down with the Lingle team to discuss the governor's plans for a new $130 million jail in Halawa.

The new facility was authorized by the Legislature more than four years ago. Cayetano administration officials say they are close to closing a deal with an unnamed private developer to build the facility and intend to go ahead.

It may be that the deal is at a point where there is no turning back. But it wouldn't hurt — if it is at all possible — to let the new administration have a look at the deal before it is signed. After all, it will be a Lingle administration that will have to oversee construction and make management decisions.

Lingle and Lt. Gov.-elect Duke Aiona are pushing hard for a shift from straight incarceration to drug treatment facilities for first-time offenders.

It is an approach we fully support.

Clearly, the Lingle-Aiona administration has some new and different ideas about crime, punishment and prisons. It deserves as clean a shot as possible in presenting those plans to the public and the legislature.

Unless there is an absolute reason why this deal has to be signed right now, it should be left to the next administration to make the final decision.