Over the past year, Hawaii leaders have moved forward with welcome reforms on sentencing, inmate rights/privileges and community corrections.
March 21, 2016 · By Kurtis Yamamoto, Civil Beat
- CAP RESPONSE:
“Hawaii is at the forefront of prison reformation and can be the inspiration for the nation.”
That would be so awesome if it were true. In actuality, Hawai`i could have been the leader in reform but has basically ignored the recommendations of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), the grant that brought this Dept. of Justice program (that has been so successful in other jurisdictions) to Hawai`i. The goal of JRI is to reduce the imprisoned population by providing an array of community services that are better equipped, less expensive and more effective than facility-based programs. Research shows that community-based programming saves between $7 and $18 for every dollar spent.
Texas was the first state to embrace JRI, introduced by the most right-wing legislators there. Today, 34 states have embraced JRI and of the 32 analyst-recommended policy suggestions, developed in collaboration with agencies across our criminal justice system, Hawai`i has implemented only 9, while South Carolina, a tea party state, has implemented 19 of the recommendations for reform! Today, in 2016, there is not one extra treatment slot in any community despite the fact that $1 million was set aside EXPRESSLY for Community-based programming in 2012. The administration says they will look at JRI AFTER they build.