CAPWATCH: Transcript of Decision on HB 462 – 3,000 Bed Prison at Waiawa

CAPWATCHYour voice is changing the conversation! And, that is incredibly important!

As you know, CAP has been super busy at the legislature. Kat is working on the list of bills that we have been working on and will send that out later. Today is what is called FIRST LATERAL. This means that all bills have to have gone through their 1st and/or 2nd committees and be headed for their last committee (JUD (Judiciary) and/or FIN (Finance) in the House and JDL (Judiciary and Labor) and/or WAM (Ways and Means) in the Senate.

But, while Kat is working on that, here is a transcript of the decisionmaking that took place yesterday on one of the worst bills this session – HB 462 – proposing a 3,000 bed prison at Waiawa. The proposal requires the department of public safety to solicit proposals for a new correctional facility at Waiawa Correctional Facility.

Mahalo to all the people who weighed in on this proposal, which is all about a building with absolutely no analysis of who would live there; who should actually be there; and what is needed to address the issues regarding the pathways that send people to prison.

We are making headway on this ill-conceived plan because of your testimony. Here is the transcript:

DECISIONMAKING ON  HB 462 – Thursday, February 16, 2017

CHAIR TAKAYAMA:  You might recall that at the hearing last week the Attorney General while discussing the bill raised an issue that it was a specific bill as opposed to a general bill and raised constitutional issues. The House attorney has cleared the bill. It is still not clear to me why the AG raised the concern on this particular bill, but in any case it is cleared for consideration.

As you might recall, this bill proposes that at the Waiawa Correctional Facility the Director of Public Safety would need to obtain cost estimates for the construction of a facility that could accommodate the Halawa Correctional Facility plus those in Arizona now, which total about 2400 inmates in addition to those already at Waiawa – about 300-400.

Iʻve amended… Iʻm suggesting that we pass it with an amendment that  is specific in terms of accommodating various security levels at this proposed facility from a range of community and minimum custody to maximum security and that the facility be designed to  accommodate living facilities as well as programs to accommodate this range of security levels. Programs everywhere from vocational training to the current farm and rehabilitation programs.

The second section that I am asking that we amend the bill deals with the current site selection committee for OCCC. Asking that the site selection group suspend its current EIS process and reopen the consideration of sites to smaller lot size that are as small as 4.5 acres. My concern is that they have not thoroughly considered all the appropriate places that OCCC could be located at and that this exposes the EIS to possible challenge from lack of consideration of alternative sites.

Iʻm also asking that this OCCC site selection group consult with the task force that is ongoing on correctional reform as to the appropriate size and design of the proposed new OCCC.

And finally we are adding a defective date and technical amendments for clarity. Members, any concerns, questions?

LO PRESTI. Thanks for the comments, I just wanted to note that what I like about the amendments is that we donʻt know the current cost of full build-out and to also communicate to the public. I think what this will do is give us a cost of what it will actually be. By amending… the amendments you made, as I understand it, by making accommodations and amendments for probable a lower number of inmates is something that is important as well. And also very important we are under the gun as a state to really get more humane and have facilities for real rehabilitation. So I think these are absolutely necessary to get a real cost to grasp…to get a real grasp of the cost and that is why I support the bill.

CREAGAN. I just want to say that I really appreciate the effort you put into this and I think we donʻt want to incarcerate as many people as we do, but at least if we do this we will incarcerate them much more humanely and rehabilitate them much better with a modern facility.

TAKAYAMA. Thank you members. It is my hope that at this time next year if this bill passes we will be in a position to better decide whether we can afford to bring back the inmates from AZ and place them at the Waiawa facility and also if we cannot afford that,  then what the cost would be to proceed with an appropriately designed OCCC.

ING. I want to support the measure. I really appreciate all the work you have done on this bill. I just want to note that before we move forward I think that part of the issue with our prisons is the incentives that force us to fill beds as an order for funding to be met. This isnʻt just a private issue, it is the way we incentivize public prisons too. Hopefully as this sort of measure moves through Finance, we can really leverage the power of our purse strings and kind of reverse incentives around to say that maybe if recidivism rates donʻt drop, than the department of public safety has some kind of recourse or a warning thatʻs fired so hopefully that moves on in this session.

TAKAYAMA. Any other comments or questions? OK, Vice Chair take the vote.

LO PRESTI. Members we are voting on HB 462 HD1. The Chairʻs recommendation is to pass with amendments. Chair and Vice Chair vote AYE.

CREAGAN? AYE.

DE COITE? EXCUSED.

GATES? AYE.

ING? AYE.

THIELEN? AYE.

LO PRESTI. Chair, your recommendation has been adopted.

This represents the power of YOUR VOICE. We have made the legislature stop and take a breath. There is still MUCH MORE WORK TO BE DONE, but we are changing the conversation and that is incredibly important. MAHALO NUI!!! Please keep testifying on important bills that can reform our broken system.

 

It must surely be a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that even a small number of those men and women in the hell of the prison system survive it and hold on to their humanity.
– Howard Zinn

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