The 2015 Session is off and running. I am almost finished downloading the bills so I can send you the Justice bills in the House and Senate. So far there have been more than 2000 bills introduced or pending introduction.
I am happy to say that there is finally an acknowledgement that there are people in our communities who live on the margins of society. Thus, there are lots of bills eliminating taxes for those struggling community members. Thanks to Appleseed’s amazing Jenny Lee for supplying the data and information. CAP supports these measures because they affect many of our people exiting incarceration. We need to facilitate success for everyone’s benefit.
Some really good justice measures have been introduced like good/earned time and a bill fixing sentencing that the Lingle administration screwed up.
And there are some really bad ones like building a 2,000-3,000 MEDIUM security prison (location not disclosed) when we know that the majority of our people would be better served in community-based programs. The public-private partnership monster is rearing its ugly head and it has plenty of traction, I’m sorry to say. However there is a good bill by the procurement office about setting up rules. Rules generally need public hearings. Good plan since we are venturing into the shark tank.To me, this is policy by desperation. The legislature has passed more and more laws that lock up more and more folks for behavior crimes and now facilities are bursting at the seams. If I hear another legislator say to me “The trouble with you advocates is that you don’t have a solution. What do we do now?” I’m gonna scream, but my reply is that for 20 years we have been recommending research supporting the reform of punitive sentences and showing the jurisdictions that reformed their sentencing laws saw a reduction in crime and in their incarcerated population. Sadly, Hawai`i, continues to pass laws that the majority of other states are either abandoning or reforming.
On a positive note, the Chief Justice gave an awesome speech this morning. He had so much heart, so much aloha in what he said. He spoke about justice being equal and available to everyone, he praised Justice Reinvestment (the Governor completely ignored justice in his state of the state speech), and spoke with such a commitment to justice. The Judiciary has been holding Implicit Bias trainings – I wish other branches of government saw the importance of these trainings. He is a leader and it was really refreshing to hear.
OK, so that’s a broad view of what’s happening.
Next is an action alert for 2 bills being heard on Friday morning, January 30th:
8:30 am – SB 147 EYEWITNESS ID – JDL Rm. 016
10:10 am – HB 31 MEDICAL MARIJUANA – HTH Rm. 329
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”