Hawaii Prisons

My American Studies class at Honolulu Community College recently watched 13th (the documentary) and then were tasked with writing a question to be tweeted to the ACLU in regards to imprisonment in Hawaii. Here are the questions they asked as well as the answers we received! Thank you ACLU Hawaii and Civil Beat for your work on this issue. The images have been taken from CJR_Mass_incarceration2 provided by the ACLU.

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In regards to sexual assault cases @ Kailua women’s prison, why not enhance security? http://bigstory.ap.org/article/20a443611e0347b6b13839e0d76f8fd8/10-women-file-suit-claiming-abuse-hawaii-womens-prison

This is a very good question, and one best put to the Department of Public Safety. The government is required to comply with the U.S. and Hawai‘i State Constitutions in incarcerating people – this includes the 8th Amendment which protects against “cruel and unusual punishment.” Simply put, the loss of liberty is the punishment, the conditions of incarceration (including violence and lax security) should not be the punishment. The ACLU has been trying to improve the conditions in Hawaii’s prison and jails for decades. In fact, we recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice over the toxic overcrowding of our jails and prisons. I have attached it here: DOJ_Complaint_as_published. I have also attached a powerpoint presentation on mass incarceration that we recently created: CJR_Mass_incarceration2.

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Is there a diff punishment 4 nonviolent & drug crimes in #Hawaii?

Right now, Hawaii’s jails and prison have three serious issues. First, it is far too easy to be a felon (5 year sentence) in Hawaiʻi. Class C felonies include many non-violent crimes like possession of any drug paraphernalia, theft over $750, possession of any amount of a Schedule I drug, including Marijuana, etc. Class C felons and misdemeanants represent 74 percent of the people in prison. Additionally, Hawaii has a long history of criminalizing poverty, using our facilities as debtor’s prisons. Around 20 percent of the incarcerated population is there, because they cannot pay bail.  Finally, our prisons and jails have become de-facto mental wards and drug treatment facilities, with zero to minimal treatment options. It’s estimated that 80% of our incarcerated person suffer from addiction. This results in a revolving door of incarceration, no rehabilitation, and lifelong consequences in housing, education and employment.

There is a movement across the nation (of which the ACLU is part) called LEAD – Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion – which changes the role of police in the community from “arrest and book” to “assess and divert.” For example, take a mentally ill homeless person disturbing the peace. She usually has it together, but ran out of money for the drugs that help her function. Normally, the police would arrest her, take her to jail, book her and she would be offered bail, which she cannot pay, so they keep her in jail. No (or few) medications or medical treatment are offered. She will likely never see a doctor. On release, she goes right back to disturbing the peace, more ill and confused and angry than before. Under LEAD, the police approach her, assess her needs (shelter, help with her medications, medical attention), and instead of arresting her, offer her the option to see a social worker. They collect her name and information, and she will need to have a meeting with the social worker at a later time – but that is it. No jail, no criminal record. Treatment and help, not arrest. LEAD is very successful at reducing rescidivism. LEAD participants in Seattle were 58% less likely to be arrested. Find out more: https://www.leadbureau.org/

[Plus side note from the blogger that there’s a new bill going through the state legislature as of April 1, 2016 attempting to make drug paraphernalia no longer a Class C Felony but only a $100 fine. http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/HB1501_HD1_.pdf]

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Why can’t #Hawaii make $ off prison so less inmates are sent to mainland?

They do. See http://www.staradvertiser.com/2011/02/14/hawaii-news/isle-prisons-become-key-source-of-labor/ [<< This article is incredible! Prisoners on work duty are even tasked with cleaning out homeless encampments, among a waiting list of other tasks.]


What about other religions in #Hawaii? http://www.civilbeat.org/2017/02/settlement-protects-religious-rights-for-hawaiian-prisoners/ …

A prisoner’s right to exercise his or her religion is balanced against the government’s interests. The general balancing test is that the government may not impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of prisoners unless that burden (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. You can read more here: https://www.aclu.org/files/images/asset_upload_file78_25744.pdf

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Is #Hawaii liable for safety of its prisoners on mainland?

Yes. Even when help in private, for-profit prisons like the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona housing upwards of 2000 Hawaii inmates, they are held under the authority of the State of Hawaii. The for-profit prison has a contract with the state, and is therefore treated as an agent of the state. That’s why when the ACLU took on two wrongful death cases after two Hawaii inmates were murdered in a CCA facility in Saguaro AZ, both the State and CCA were named as plaintiffs.  https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/in-the-news/2012/hrdc-aclu-of-hawaii-file-suit-on-behalf-of-family-of-hawaii-prisoner-slain-at-cca-prison/


What are problems w/ sending #Hawaii prisoners to mainland?

Any time there is profit motive for incarceration, there is a vested interest in keeping more people in jail longer, at lowest cost to the company to maximize shareholder profits.  This is antithetical to justice. See https://www.aclu.org/banking-bondage-private-prisons-and-mass-incarceration. Also, separating inmates from their loved ones is cruel and makes rehabilitation less likely.

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What are the 2016 demographics of #Hawaii prisons by crime?

Crime reports can be found here:  http://ag.hawaii.gov/cpja/rs/cih/ and https://ag.hawaii.gov/cpja/files/2016/12/Crime-in-Hawaii-2015.pdf

Reasons for incarceration can be found here: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/profiles/HI.html [This has some excellent slides on racial and ethnic data in Hawaii’s prisons and Hawaiian prisoners on the mainland, that argue that these graphs don’t even account for some nuances in the actual reality of Native Hawaiians experiences in the prison system. For example:

In 2010, Office Of Hawaiian Affairs released a report The Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System finding that Native Hawaiians were disproportionately sent to out-of-state prisons. The report said that in 2005, “of the people in out-of-state facilities, 41 percent are Native Hawaiians”. The numbers may have gotten worse, as our our analysis of the Census Bureau data for Arizona’s Saguaro Correctional Facility says that that facility is 48% Native Hawaiian alone, and 49% Native Hawaiian alone or in combination with other racial groups.

I’ve included some slides from PrisonPolicy.org here, but you should definitely check it out for yourself.]

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What types of prison labor are instituted in #Hawaii prisons?

This is a great question, probably best answered by the Department of Public Safety. There is a website for the Correctional Industries: http://hawaiici.org/ [This site is really fascinating because it’s from the prison industry’s perspective. The site shows pictures of prisoners doing labor – everything from light construction crews to screenprinting shirts and woodwork. Additionally you’ll find the recent 2016 bill that spells out how prison labor in Hawaii must market itself: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2016/bills/GM1329_.pdf.

You could also contact the Community Alliance on Prisons for a view from outside the system https://caphawaii.wordpress.com/.


How are prisons designed in #Hawaii – differences for men, women,  + kids?

We have jails: pretrail detainees, prisons: sentenced and convicted, and youth correctional facilities: for offenders under the age of 18. Wards at youth correctional facilities attend school, they are supposed to have a more rehabilitative focus.

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How many youths are in #prison in #Hawaii?

For someone under 18 to go to prison, they must be charged as an adult, and pose a sufficient danger that they cannot be safely held at a juvenile facility. Then, if held in an adult prison, must be kept separate from the general population. We are not aware of any such situated youths in Hawaii at this time, but the Department of Public Safety could tell you more. Most of the time, youths do NOT go to jail or to prison, nor are they “convicted of crimes” or “inmates.” Youths are held at a Youth Correctional Facility, after being adjuticated (usually in Family Court) of an offense. Then they become wards. Youth correction in Hawaii has been controversial, the ACLU of Hawaii brought a landmark case about brutal treatment of wards who were (or were perceived to be) LGBT by the guards and administration. https://www.aclu.org/news/hawaii-youth-correctional-facility-pay-over-half-million-dollars-relentless-campaign-harassment


On average, how long do #Hawaii inmates wait until trial?

Under the Hawaii Rules of Penal Procedure, trials must generally commence within 6 months of arrest. This period can be extended for certain types of delays. A 2004 study found that people charged with felonies in Hawaiʻi spent 216 days in jail awaiting trial. See https://csgjusticecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/JR_HI_Policy_Rollout_Handout.pdf

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How much is the average bail bond in #Hawaii? @acluhawaii

This is a great question, and the answer is, we are not entirely sure. There are currently no ready-made government reports on the subject. It is an area of interest to the ACLcaU, since we’d like to see no-cash bail for many offenses, instead of the large percentage of low level, non-violent offenders sitting in jail because they cannot pay. In fact, we plan to conduct a local study on this in the coming year or so. If you were to ask a government agency, it would be the court system.


Did US govt make $ off Japanese American #internment in WW2? [Learn more about internment in Hawaii during WW2 here: http://hawaiiinternment.org/]

There is a lot of documentation that yes, the United States did rampantly seize and sell the property of Japanese-American citizens as part of Internment. Many resources online about this, including this Economist article: http://www.economist.com/node/788126. To learn even more, including information about the newly established National Monument at Honouliuli, contact our local Japanese Cultural Center. The ACLU was instrumental in bringing to a close this shameful chapter in American history: https://www.aclu.org/other/aclu-history-dark-moment-history-japanese-internment-camps


An image of Honouliuli Internment Camp in Honolulu – one of many internment camps spread across the islands that housed Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans among other ethnic groups. Read more by clicking on this photo.

Are #Hawaii prisons affiliated with CC or @CorrectionsCorp?

The State of Hawaii pays CCA about $45 million per year to currently house about 1926 Hawai‘i prisoners at their private, for-profit prisons in Arizona.  The ACLU would like to see the State of Hawaiʻi stop using for-profit prisons entirely.


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