Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Haunted History of the Oahu Community Correctional Center

Source: Haunted Rooms

When I think of haunted prisons, I think of the WV State Penitentiary at Moundsville. I think of Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. I think of the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield. The state of Hawaii does not, however, come to mind. Yet, it probably should, as even this island paradise is not without its history of haunted correctional facilities!

When I decided to find a new place in Hawaii to add to my Haunted America page, I did a simple Google search for 'haunted Hawaii.' I noticed that the Oahu Community Correctional Center consistently made the 'top haunted lists.' Unfortunately, in each article that I came across, the same information was presented---sometimes word for word.

It seems as if the current facility, which is equipped to hold 950 pre-trial detainees, as well as offering various educational and social outreach programs for offenders, sits atop the site of the old Oahu Prison. Historical information regarding the history of the center has been difficult to ascertain. At best, information is lacking. At worst, it is downright confusing and in some cases, conflicting reports come from different sources.  However, according to a government document, dated 19 May 2017 and entitled 'Future of the Oahu Community Correctional Center,' there has been some type of correctional facility on the site since the early 1900s. In the mid-1970s, an annex was added to one of the original buildings, and by 1982, a new jail building was added to the complex. Some sources say that at least one of the buildings on the campus of today's center go back to 1916, and early photographs from an 1888 magazine publication denote that the Oahu Prison was located on that site even further back.

Prisoners Eating Poi: Hawaii State Archives
No matter what the actual history of the site entails, it is common knowledge among both inmates and staff that the facility is haunted. Inmates often report that they can hear cell doors creaking open and slamming shut, even though no one is around at the time.

It is stated that 47 prisoners were hanged at the site between 1909 and 1944. When the new building was constructed, the offices were built atop the site of the former gallows. Because of this, staff members tend to avoid the squad room, refusing to sleep there while not on active duty. They say the room has an eerie, uncomfortable feeling and unexplained disturbances are common.

Since the actual Oahu Community Correctional Center opened up in the late 1970s/early 1980s, it has been subjected to habitual overcrowding, despite the construction of new facilities. Over time, the buildings themselves are also becoming outdated. So, recently, the Oahu Community Correctional Center has been hunting for a new home. What is extremely interesting about all that (at least to me!) is that according to a Honolulu Star article from November 14, 2017, the main candidate for the new facility is the current site of the animal quarantine facility. The article makes sure to mention that this facility is ALSO haunted! Part of the facility was built atop the old Halawa Naval Cemetery. It is believed that those buried in the cemetery, along with the traditional Hawaii Night Marchers who use this area as a route, haunt the quarantine station!

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