HI News; 2nd Chance Act; Michigan & Sentencing; Fed Task Force on Prisons

 

Today we will start off with Governor Ige’s commitment to the people of Hawai`i and follow that with 2 Hawai`i news stories of an incarcerated person who died in prison (no compassionate release granted) and the ongoing problems of Honolulu Police Department Chief Kealoha who is going before the Police Commission on December 17th.

These are followed by 3 national news stories about the Dept. of Justice’s Second Chance Act grantees (no mention of Hawai`I, so I don’t know if Public Safety actually applied for grants, although we haven’t really done anything about reentry), an op ed byBill DeBoer, president and CEO of the Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program, a community-based alternative to incarceration, and a congressionally mandated task force on the federal prison system named yesterday.

Governor Ige’s Commitment to the People

“The Ige administration will address the many issues facing our state in a direct and forthright manner. We will collaborate with our federal and county partners and with the Legislature to serve all of the people of Hawaii. We will spend public funds thoughtfully and without waste to avoid raising taxes. We will make state government more efficient, especially in the procurement of goods and services and the hiring of personnel. We will conduct government affairs openly and be visible to the public.

The Ige administration will not only strive to do the right thing, but do it the right way. This administration will be honest, transparent, accountable, and responsive to you. We will serve the public interest and not special interests. We will hold regular news conferences. We will have no hidden agendas.”

Deceased inmate’s family questions why he wasn’t medically released
Tim Sakahara, Hawaii News Now, Dec. 8, 2014

Excerpt:
“… At the same time James Pflueger was being medically released from prison another inmate was dying of cancer and his mother wasn’t allowed to visit him behind bars. Now the family is questioning why they didn’t get the same treatment.

(…)

“Director Sakai says about 12-15 people a year apply to be medically released and that the majority are granted, but it has nothing to do with wealth or special treatment.

Will Honolulu Police Commission Hold Chief Kealoha Accountable?
That’s a question being asked by lawmakers who have concerns that the agency is ineffective when it comes to handling police oversight.
Nick Grube, Civil Beat, Dec. 10, 2014

Department of Justice Announces 78 New Second Chance Act Grantees
Nov. 16, 2014

Opinion: Michigan Must Get Smarter about Prison Sentencing
Bill DeBoer, Detroit News, December 3, 2014

Excerpt:
“As the cost of crime and punishment continues to rise, it’s time for Michigan to take a hard look at the rate of return on Department of Corrections spending and decide whether it’s wise to keep those dollars locked up behind bars.

(…)

“The recent introduction of four House Bills, 5928-5931, by State Rep. Joe Haveman, represents a major step in the right direction. The legislation would modernize the state’s community corrections system by restoring the Justice Policy Commission, creating more consistency and certainty throughout Michigan’s criminal justice system, guaranteeing that every individual released from prison receives supervision in the community.

“The Council of State Governments spent more than two years studying Michigan’s criminal justice system and the four House bills are based on those recommendations.

“Of particular interest is Rep. Haveman’s desire to reduce the number of geriatric inmates, some of Michigan’s least-threatening but most expensive prisoners, and relocate these individuals into residential rehabilitation facilities to reduce the state’s Medicare burden. …”

Watts to Chair Task Force on Federal Prisons
Ted Gest, The Crime Report, Dec. 9, 2014

Other jurisdictions that had the opportunity for reform through Justice Reinvestment have been pressing forward, while Hawai`i has really done nothing, despite the $1 million set aside in 2012 for community-based programming (which has not produced one extra slot for community-based programming). It was mighty embarrassing when I went to DC in June for a meeting on Capitol Hill and had to admit that Hawai`i has not really embraced JRI . So sad.

However, we can hold Governor Ige to his commitment about transparency and accountability and continue to educate the legislature about these important issues that impact so many families in Hawai`i nei.

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