Frank Ishizaki is back in charge at the Department of Corrections for the first time since 2003.
He told K57’s Patti Arroyo Wednesday morning that “the facility is worse than it was” when he left 16 years ago.
When he left in 2003, Ishizaki said there were over 200 corrections officers to guard just over 400 inmates and detainees. Now, he has roughly 150 officers to oversee more than 700 prisoners.
Governor Leon Guerrero appointed Ishizaki Acting DOC director last week. He takes over from Samantha Brennan who resigned on Nov. 22.
Still, after his first week back in charge, Ishizaki said he is impressed with some of the upgrades to the housing units and the new electronic locks that have been installed at the prison.
“We’ve got modern electronic locks which are really impressive,” said Ishizaki, but there aren’t enough security cameras. “There is still a lot of work to be done.”
However, Ishizaki said “we’ve got great employees” and “employees who care and that makes a great deal of difference.”
The lack of guards at the prison has been a major issue for DOC corrections officers who told the governor during a meeting last month that the staff shortage threatens their safety.
Ishizaki has signed 28 offer letters to potential recruits, and another two or three former corrections officers are being offered re-employment.
The new recruits will have to undergo eight weeks of training. The funding is coming from DOC’s existing budget.
Ishizaki said he has already initiated an in-house newsletter and appointed an editor.
And he intends to have a media day and invite island journalists to come and take a tour of the facility “to see how DOC works.”
“I want to create a transparent environment,” said Ishizaki. “I think the public should know what DOC is responsible for, what it does, and how it does it so that when bad things happen they might understand better.”