Thursday, November 18, 2010


Justice and InJustice in Hawai`i

By Henry Curtis

Prisons aren’t a sexy topic. It’s not a subject matter many care about. But on the other hand, 95% of all incarcerated individuals will be released and in the community. Hawai`i has the 5th worst parole revocation  rate in the nation. Only four states have higher failure rates than Hawai`i.

Over the past 8 years we have made the situation worse.

The Maui Economic Opportunity Being Empowered and Safe Together (MEO BEST) Reintegration Program developed a reentry program aimed at serious and violent felons. While the State had a recidivism rate of 60% or more, MECO Best had a recidivism rate of 40%. Governor Lingle defunded the MEO Best Reintegration Program.

The State of Hawai`i Kulani Prison was the top rated sex treatment facility in the United States. Its recidivism rate was less than 2% since 1988. Governor Lingle defunded Kulani and sent the inmates to serve dead time at other facilities despite the promise of uninterrupted programming.

Hale Na'au Pono is the only national (CARF) accreditation, non-State operated community mental health center (CMHC) in Hawai`i. The facility has received national and local recognition. Governor Lingle defunded Hale Na'au Pono.

Emphasis on lowering recidivism rates can be justified on the grounds that it reduces crime, it saves money, and from many religious perspectives, it is simply the right thing to do when one believes in redemption.

Jesus said (Matthew 25:35-40) we are judged by how we treat the least among us: “I was ahungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee ahungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

National Conference of State Legislatures

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is a national bipartisan organization that advocates for the interests of state governments, and provides research and policy information to state legislators and staff.

Exit Strategy for Parolees: (NCSL, June 2010) “Returning to prison—for everything from committing a new crime to violating parole—is referred to as recidivism, and it’s a huge and costly problem for states. Lawmakers increasingly are turning to a growing body of information on what works and what doesn’t in supervising offenders. They’re using it to create policies that reduce recidivism, increase public safety and decrease prison costs.”

“In 2007, the U.S. state prison population was at 1.4 million inmates at a cost of $34 billion to states, and parolee recidivism accounted for about one-third of all prison admissions. That year, the Pew Center on the States reported that if nothing was done, the prison population would continue to grow to 1.7 million inmates by 2011 at an additional cost of $27.5 billion.

Although states have been experimenting with programs to reduce recidivism for years, the federal government got behind the effort in 2008 with the Second Chance Act. The law provides grants to states, local governments and nonprofit groups to improve community safety by providing services that will help ensure offenders’ successful transition back into the community.”

“In March 2010, the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States released a report that found, for first time in 38 years, the overall state prison population has declined. ‘Prison populations and costs have been going up for so long that many policymakers just assumed there wasn’t anything they could do about it,’ says Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project. ‘But it’s not fate. In the last couple of years, Texas, Kansas and other states have taken steps that keep the size of their systems in check while also protecting public safety and holding offenders accountable.’”

Howard Snyder, chief of Recidivism, Reentry and Special Projects, Bureau of Justice Statistics stated: “We must understand which intervention strategies used while in prison or after release are most effective in protecting the public.”

The Council of State Governments

The Council of State Governments (CSG) is a national organization serving the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government.  The CSG created a Justice Center  to develop data-driven consensus-driven strategies particularly in multi-disciplinary arenas such as criminal justice and public health; strengthen communities; and increase public safety. “Justice Reinvestment” is a “data-driven approach to reduce corrections spending and improve conditions in the handful of neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return. Justice reinvestment strategies are designed to help reduce recidivism while making these communities safer and stronger.”

The Second Chance Act of 2007 was a landmark bipartisan bill aimed at making better use of tax revenue in reducing crime and making communities safer. The bill was introduced by Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA).

Senator Leahy: “It is vitally important that we do everything we can to ensure that, when people get out of prison, they enter our communities as productive members of society, so we can start to reverse the dangerous cycles of recidivism and violence ...I hope that the Second Chance Act will help us begin to break that cycle.”

Governor Cayetano

Governor Cayetano sent inmates to the mainland in 1995 as a temporary solution to over crowding. Incarcerated men and women were sent to a number of privately owned facilities including Bobby Ross (Texas), CCA (Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona), Dominion (Oklahoma), and GRW (Colorado).

Governor Lingle

Governor Lingle took office on December 2, 2002, committed to bringing about a “New Beginning” for the people of Hawai‘i by making state government more open, accountable and responsive.

Making Government Work Better

“Restoring integrity to government requires us to share information openly with the public so the people of Hawai`i will know the true condition of state government, the programs it operates and the results of its efforts. Both elected leaders and the public must know the information essential to good decision-making. Government resources are limited, so all spending and policy choices must be based on reliable information and clearly articulated values and objectives, rather than short-term political considerations. ...Financial accountability and openness are essential if government leaders are able to make sound decision and then be held accountable for the actual results. They are absolutely necessary to break the vicious cycle of corruption and favoritism in state contracting, and to restore trust and integrity in government service.”

Governor Lingle got rid of state researchers and planners, severely restricted outside researchers from reviewing and analyzing data on incarcerated people  to develop better tools to reduce recidivism, outsourced state jobs including expanding the use of privatize prisons, and allowed CCA to comb through the State of Hawai`i Department of Public Safety incarceration files to cherry pick inmates that would maximize their bottom line.

The cost to house inmates varies considerably. One could divide incarcerated people into two groups: those that would be cheaper to manage, and those with special needs (medical, health, mental issues, and/or violent tendencies) that would cost more to manage. By exporting only the first group, it would appear that it is cheaper incarcerated people on the mainland than to keep them in-State. However, the first group is cheaper to manage no matter where they are housed. The private prison charges an average cost to house all incarcerated people rather than the average cost to incarcerate people in the first group. Thus it is possible to game the system. This requires understanding who is incarcerated, and this can be achieved by allowing private companies to review confidential information held by the State.

Since Hawai`i began exporting inmates to the mainland, there have been unanticipated side effects. Hawai`i exported female inmates to a private prison in Kentucky where it is only a misdemeanor for a guard to rape an inmate. Inmates housed on the mainland have led to the formation of new gangs and gang activities that have spilled over into the streets of Hawaii.

Meda Chesney-Lind

Meda Chesney-Lind Ph.D. is a nationally recognized criminologist, a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology and the Western Society of Criminology, a Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the author of Beyond Bad Girls: Gender, Violence and Hype written with Katherine Irwin and Fighting for Girls co-edited with Nikki Jones. She received the Bruce Smith, Sr. Award “for outstanding contributions to Criminal Justice” from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in April, 2001. She was named a fellow of the American Society of Criminology in 1996 and has also received the Herbert Block Award for service to the society and the profession from the American Society of Criminology.  She has also received the Donald Cressey Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for “outstanding contributions to the field of criminology,” the Founders award of the Western Society of Criminology for "significant improvement of the quality of justice,” and the University of Hawaii Board of Regent's Medal for "Excellence in Research."

Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (DPFH)

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (DPFH) was founded in 1993 by Pamela G. Lichty and Don Topping to “encourage the development of effective drug policies that minimize economic, social, and human costs, and to promote the consideration of pragmatic approaches to drug policy based on: scientific principles, effective outcomes, public-health considerations, concern for human dignity, and enhancing the well-being of individuals and communities.”

Pam Lichty obtained her M.A. in Public Health (MPH) from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa in 1987. She served as Committee Clerk for the House Committee on Health 1988-89, a planner on the Governor’s Committee on HIV/AIDS for 2.5 years, and was instrumental in establishing Hawaii’s Sterile Needle Exchange Program. Pam has served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai`i ( and on the Board of Directors of the national Drug Policy Alliance. Her focus is on harm reduction, human rights, civil rights, medical marijuana, and public policy.

Community Alliance on Prisons (CAP)

The Community Alliance on Prisons (CAP) was founded in the mid 1990s to focus on reforming Hawaii’s criminal justice system. The original name adopted by the founding members was Rethinking Prisons Working Group (RPWG – not an easy acronym). The name scared people and it became Community Alliance on Prisons after its first conference, with CAP becoming its acronym. Putting a cap on prisons resonated with the first group that came together.

The Community Alliance on Prisons (CAP) Brain Trust

Carrie Ann Shirota is a Soros Fellow, attorney, justice advocate, a former enforcement officer with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and the former director of the Mau`i Economic Opportunity (MEO) Best Re-entry Program on Maui.

Marilyn Brown is an Associate Professor at University of Hawai`i, Hilo and a criminologist who focuses on correctional policy, re-entry, incarcerated parents, and children of incarcerated parents.

Janet T. Davidson, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice at Chaminade University. Dr. Davidson has a Ph.D. in Sociology with a specific focus on crime, law and deviance. She also earned an M.A. and B.A. in sociology. Her research interests include institutional and community corrections, recidivism, and issues related to gender and crime. She has published numerous peer viewed and applied research publications, including “Female Offenders and Risk Assessment: Hidden in Plain Sight” (2009).

RaeDeen Keahiolalo Karasuda, Ph.D., Research Analyst, Kamehameha Schools

Jeanne Ohta, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai`i.

Kat Brady serves as Coordinator of Community Alliance on Prisons; Assistant Executive Director of Life of the Land, a 40-year old environmental and community action group; (Board member of Hawai`i Friends of Law & Civic Related Education;) member of the Hawai`i Women's Coalition; and Chair of the Honolulu County Committee on the Status of Women (2001-); the only prisoner advocate in the state on the UH Institutional Review Board reviewing social science research (2001-); the only community member of the (Judiciary)  Interagency Working Group for Intermediate Sanctions ; Vice President and Board member of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai`i, Secretary of Drug Policy Action Group, Path Clinic Advisory Board, Co-Chair Children of Incarcerated Parents Task Force, member of Women’s Community Correctional Center Trauma Informed Care Working Group, and `Olelo producer of Hawai`i InJustice broadcast the first Tuesday of each month at 8:30 pm and everything Thursday morning at 8:00 am on Channel 54 or at

Kat Brady was Legislative Coordinator for the Hawai‘`i Juvenile Justice Project; Legislative Coordinator for the ACLU of Hawai`i; A community member of the Act 161 Interagency Council; the only community member of the Intermediate Sanctions Working Group formed by the Judiciary and Certificate of Recognition for Leo Ikaika, the strong voice for justice. (2010).

Kat is the proud recipient of the 2003 National Association of Hawaiian Civic Club’s Kako`o o Kalaniana`ole Award, which recognized her as the Outstanding Non-Hawaiian for Service to the Hawaiian Community. Her other awards include: the Interfaith Alliance of Hawai`i Certificate for Community Mobilization in 2004; Hawai`i Senate Certificate of Recognition for Social Justice Advocacy in 2005; Friend of Social Work awarded by the National Association of Social Workers in 2005; Hawai`i Friends of Civil Rights – Martin Luther King Jr. Friends Award in 2009; and the Critical Criminology & Justice Study's first recipient of the Advocacy for Justice Award (2010).

Hawai`i: Criminology 101

Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind, criminologist and professor of women studies at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, spoke at CAP’s Unlocking Justice Conference (2009): “In the 1970s, and I know because I was there...we had one prison [in Hawai`i] with 300 inmates. We had no women’s prison, we had one woman. ...Now, that was not 5 million years ago, that was 30 years ago. ...we had 300 now we have over 6000.” (Video: Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind) Deitch was the keynote speaker at CAP’s Unlocking Justice Conference (2009): “I have actually been fascinated by Hawaii’s criminal justice system for more than 25 years. Hawaii’s prison system in fact taught me my first important lesson about prison reform at the very start of my career. I was only a law student at the time and interested in these prison issues and I spent the summer of 1984 working at the ACLU’s National Prison Project in Washington. This is the country’s foremost litigators on behalf of prisoners. I overheard the long-time Director Al Bronstein discussing his then recent trip to visit Hawaii’s prisons and he said that these were the worst prisons he had ever seen anywhere, and this was a man who had been in 100s and 100s of prisons around the country” (Video: Michele Deitch part 1)

Michele Deitch is an attorney with over 23 years of experience working on criminal justice policy issues with state and local government officials, corrections officials, judges, and advocates.  She teaches criminal justice and juvenile justice policy at the LBJ School and at the Law School. She was awarded a 2005-06 Soros Senior Justice Fellowship by the Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation, one of the most prestigious prizes for individuals working on criminal justice policy reform. Her areas of specialty include independent oversight of correctional institutions, institutional reform litigation, prison conditions and management, prison and jail overcrowding, prison privatization, and juveniles in adult court.

She holds a J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School, M.Sc. in psychology (with a specialization in criminology) from Oxford University (Balliol College), and a B.A. with honors from Amherst College.

Mass Incarceration

Marilyn Brown: “In some ways, with good intentions, but a misunderstanding about the determinants of crime, and the terrible consequences of what people are calling mass incarceration on our families and on our communities that research is bringing to light now the destructiveness impact of mass incarceration” (Video: Smart Justice)

Carrie Ann Shirota: “We have some serious problems within our criminal justice system, and on the other hand we have some programs and initiatives that are very hopeful, and If we direct our energy, our research, our community resources, and implement smart justice strategies, we can go back to a time where there was a much smaller prison population, and we can divert those resources into treatment and into other activities that actually empower communities, educate our communities, strengthen families rather than what we are doing right now which is investing so much money into prisons, and prisons right now are just making us poorer not safer.” (Video: Smart Justice)

Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind: “We have the lowest crime rate the State has ever seen, so we are increasingly relying on incarceration with a falling crime rate.” (Video: Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind)


Male inmates were taught a variety of vocational skills while female inmates were limited to sewing classes and kitchen cleanup details, as if that would prepare them to reenter the labor force. It took CAP six years of perseverance to get the Legislature to adopt parity for female offenders (SB 467, Act 258-2000). Now female inmates have the opportunity to obtain a greater variety of job skills, still limited but more.

Exporting Inmates to Private Prisons

Kat Brady: “For this temporary solution to overcrowding 15 years ago no exit strategy” (Video: Smart Justice)

Marilyn Brown: “The NPR story and other stories, about the corruptive influence of Correction Corporation of America on the Arizona State Government” (Video: Smart Justice)

Carrie Ann Shirota: “What seems to be happening within our system is on the one hand we are saying we don’t have any money, and we have an overcrowding problem, so the only quote responsive is to send people out of state but we need to examine the actual physical costs, and the moral cost of sending people out of state. But also we are sending our resources out of state, were sending jobs ...we're sending that money out of state and profiting CCA shareholders” (Video: Smart Justice)

Marilyn Brown: “The closure of Kulani Prison which had evidenced based programs to prepare people to come into the community, that prison was closed, and where are the resources going? They’re going to pay for this experiment with private prisons ...It’s one thing to privatize government services ...but this is human beings, how can we subject human rights the bottom line?” (Video: Smart Justice)

The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) decision to transfer the Kulani land site from the Department of Public Safety to the state Department of Defense is being challenged by three parties: Kat Brady of the Community Alliance on Prisons, Michael Lee, a Kanaka Maoli cultural practitioner and lineal descendant with ties to the lands in question and DMZ-Hawai’i / Aloha ‘Aina. Meanwhile, on November 4, 2010, Governor Lingle, Cabinet Members, members of her staff, representatives of the Hawai`i Department of Defense, and Senator Mike Gabbard, boarded a Black Hawk helicopter and flew to Kulani Prison for a "Unifying Ceremony."

Kat Brady: “We don’t really even have a contract with CCA. Because to avoid the procurement law ...the outgoing Governor actually made a government-to-government contract with the City of Eloy, and when she made that contract, the Mayor of Eloy was a correctional officer at Red Rock Prison which is owned by CCA. So right there you have to say something is pilau.” (Video: Smart Justice)

Classrooms vs. Cells

Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind: “Where are we going to get the money for public education? ...How are we paying for all of this? ...Well that’s why I mentioned college education because in the years that America embarked on this massive prison experiment, we have essentially been taking money out of education, particularly higher education, and putting it into prisons.” (Video: Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind)

Kanaka Maoli

RaeDeen Karasuda: “For me, when I started to do my dissertation. It wasn’t so important to ask why are Hawaiians criminal. It was very important for me to figure out why are Hawaiians criminalized at such disproportionate rates.” (Video: RaeDeen Karasuda)

Native Hawaiians are no more likely to use drugs than the rest of society, but they are more likely to wind up in prison as a result of that drug use.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) issued a report “The Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System” (2010) which concluded the Hawai`i Criminal Justice System is not friendly to Hawaiians. “Native Hawaiians make up 24 percent of the general population of Hawai‘i, but 27 percent of all arrests, 33 percent of people in pretrial detention, 29 percent of people sentenced to probation, 36 percent admitted to prison in 2009, 39 percent of the incarcerated population, 39 percent of releases on parole, and 41 percent of parole revocations. ...Native Hawaiians receive longer prison sentences than most other racial or ethnic groups. ...Native Hawaiians are sentenced to longer probation terms than most other racial or ethnic groups.” “The collaborative research effort began with the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa, Justice Policy Institute and Georgetown University to employ both quantitative and qualitative research methods to gather valuable information to better understand and address the concerns of our indigenous people. The results and recommendations of this study are needed to initiate policy reform and systemic change for Hawai‘i.”

In public pronouncements, OHA has focused on the biased towards imprisoning Native Hawaiians while omitting the analysis that they are no more likely to use drugs or commit crimes than other groups. Furthermore, OHA has insisted that this disparity should not be immediately addressed, but instead a Task Force should be formed to look into solutions.

Kat Brady: “The majority of inmates in prison are there for the use of drugs. ...Hawaiians are no more likely to use drugs that other people in society. Why do we need a task force, we know what the problem is, we should be doing something, why waste money.”

Robert Perkinson, University of Hawai`i Professor and a 2006 Soros Justice Fellow wrote Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire (2008). The meticulously written book documents the history of racism in the prison system and the rise of private prisons, both of which are key to understanding the Hawai`i criminal justice system.

"Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire is a history of imprisonment, race, and politics from slavery to the present, with an emphasis on Texas, the most locked-down state in the nation. Sweeping in scope and exhaustively researched, it tries to answer some of the most vexing questions of our time: Why has the United States built the largest prison system in the world, unlike anything in the history of democratic governance, and why have racial disparities in criminal justice worsened over the past two generations, despite the landmark victories of the civil rights movement? Drawing on a decade of archival, legal, and legislative research, combined with scores of interviews, this book argues that the history of American criminal justice is a more southern story than most have acknowledged (the prison boom began and has remained most pervasive in the South) and that the politics of race and reaction have played a more prominent role in the expansion of incarceration than elevated crime rates. By drawing parallels between the development of segregation and convict leasing in the aftermath of Reconstruction and the rise of mass imprisonment in the wake of integration, Texas Tough contends that America’s imprisonment crisis has taken shape as the latest chapter in America’s tragic racial history and that a concerted nationwide effort will be required to move the country toward a more equitable and genuinely democratic future."

Public Health Issues

Kat Brady: “The majority of people in prison have drug problems, and yet there’s not a lot of drug treatment but plenty of drugs in prison” (Video: Smart Justice) “Why do we have so many people in prison who are suffering from public health problems?” (Video: Smart Justice, The Value of Hawai`i & Kulani)

Smart Justice Programs

Carrie Ann Shirota spoke at CAP’s Unlocking Justice Conference (2009): “There can be no success without preparation, and why is it that, even now when we use kind of these re-entry buzzwords with re-entry it’s like people are starting one year before they are released, six months before they are released. First of all, we should be focusing more on prevention. But even at that, once someone is in re-entry should start on day one.” (Video: Carrie Ann Shirota part 2) “The title of this presentation today is an `Olelo No`eau, a Hawaiian proverb, it’s Ho`i hou i ka iwi kuamo`o. ...The wisdom of Native Hawaiian, ancestors, I mean it’s there for you if you are willing to search. It literally translated means return to the backbone, but the kauna the hidden meaning of it, returning to your family or homeland after being away” (Video: Carrie Ann Shirota part 1)

Kat Brady: “One of the problems, it seems to me, is that, we always think that the answer has to come from somewhere else, or we have to take something from somewhere else and make it work here, when we have terrific minds actually thinking up these incredible things” (Video: Smart Alternatives)

Kat Brady: “Did you know that Hawai`i has a re-entry law? A law was passed in 2007, it is now referred to as Act 8 and in Hawai`i Revised Statutes it has its own section, 353H. The law was promulgated to really deal with people who have served sentences in prison and who are now coming back to the community; to help that transition to be smooth; and help them be successful and contributing community members. The law is a real philosophical change for the department, which, believe me, has been difficult especially under the Lingle Administration, because the Governor, Governor Lingle, is the only Governor in the nation to veto a re-entry bill.” (Video: Reentry, Substance Abuse & Women)

Marilyn Brown: “This is kind of under the radar I think, people don’t really know about the innovations that have been developed by people in Hawai`i that are actually now being adopted in other jurisdictions ... HOPE Probation ...was developed by Judge Alm ...this has been evaluated by really outstanding national researchers and they are having very impressive results and outcomes” (Video: Smart Alternatives)

Hawai`i Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald: “It’s my pleasure to present the [2010] Jurist of the Year Award to Judge Steven Alm, of the Circuit Court, First Circuit. Judge Alm has been a leader in the true sense of the word by advocating changing of the way we supervise probationers and then following through working with others throughout the judiciary to make that change a reality.” (Video: Jurist of the Year)

Marilyn Brown: “A program developed here in Hawai`i that’s now getting national attention and that’s the SKIP Program, supporting Keiki of Incarcerated Parents ...on the mainland is called supporting Kids of Incarcerated Parents.” (Video: Smart Alternatives)

Carrie Ann Shirota: “MEO’s BEST Reintegration Program on Maui was an embodiment of SKIP and other services, employment, housing, substance abuse treatment, not provided directly by our program but outside community providers, family reunification, cultural programs ...That’s where BEST came in, it started off very simple with dinners we would hold at MEO Family Center where the men and women would come to the family center with our staff, there would be some supervising ACOs, our partners could attend with probation and parole, they were always welcome and invited, and each client was able to invite several family members. ...It extended to movie nights and then some nights we had activities for children ...we need to do things that are more lifelike, and so we extended that by going out into the community and doing, not only family unification events, but events that gave back and an example would be going to Honokowai Valley area restoring archeological sites, planting Koa trees to reforest ... formerly incarcerated, families, their children, correctional officers, our staff, keiki to kapuna, all working together to whatever abilities we could contribute, even once we went out to the Hawaiian Homestead community and partnered with Habitat for Humanity to help Hawaiian families build their homes.” (Video: Smart Alternatives)

CAP published SMART JUSTICE: How Hawai`i Can Have Fewer Inmates and Safer Communities (July 2010)  "This paper was born at a Strategy Session of the Smart Justice Collective, a group of academics, researchers, community advocates, and attorneys. The focus was Hawai`i’s increasingly costly and ineffective criminal justice system. Concerned by Hawai`i’s growing reliance on incarceration, we dedicate our efforts to make our system smarter on crime, rather than tougher on crime.

Both local and national research supports these efforts. In addition, Hawai`i’s current fiscal crisis has placed us in a position where the status quo in criminal justice can no longer be sustained. We believe that this 'perfect storm' presents a great opportunity to rethink and improve the quality of justice in Hawai`i.

This paper presents data on the consequences of mass incarceration and how they relate to public safety and Hawai`i’s fragile economy. We offer recommendations to stop the unprecedented growth in our correctional system, save money and reinvest those correctional dollars into communities most impacted by incarceration.

We hope this data stimulates dialogue and the enactment of Smart Justice policies that have proven cost-effective in decreasing crime and recidivism rates, and build safer communities."

Harm Reduction

Harm Reduction strategies focus on making people safer without judgment. Harm Reduction strategies include requiring the use of seat belts, caps on ball point pens, wheel chair ramps, safety glasses for people who work in saw mills, advertising campaigns encouraging designated drivers, offering free cab rides for really drunk bar patrons and promoting safe sex. The theory is that it is easier to promote safety than it is to get people to stop doing the risky behavior. An alternative approach is abstinence, such as the failed national prohibition on alcohol, the existing national prohibition on marijuana, and advertisement campaigns promoting the abstinence of sex before marriage.

“The [Honolulu] Path Clinic is a judgment free zone in which a woman with a substance abuse issue can receive excellent compassionate healthcare that addresses her addiction. The birth outcomes for women who receive Path Clinic services prenatally are much better than the average outcomes for the state and nation, even though the women struggle with addiction.”

Needle Exchanges provide clean needles to drug addicts. The program reduces the risk to drug users. According to the Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC), needle exchanges are supported by the AME Church Conference of Bishops, American Civil Liberties Union, American Medical Association, American Bar Association, American Public Health Association, American Psychological Association, Episcopal Church, NAACP, Physicians for Human Rights, Presbyterian Church, U.S. Conference of Mayors, United Church of Christ, and the Urban League.


A key issue in criminal justice reform is monitoring what happens in prison, especially out-of-state prisons, something that does not exist in Hawai`i. The experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram and Phil Zimbardo show the absolute importance of independent community-based entities with the ability to have unannounced visits of prisons.

Stanley Milgram was born in New York City in 1933, graduated from Queens College (B.A. Political Science) and Harvard University (Ph.D. Social Psychology). Stanley Milgram, born into a Jewish family, started an experiment on obedience three months after the start of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem.

At Yale University in 1961 he asked participants to randomly pick a slip of paper designating them as a teacher or student. In actuality all participants pulled slips designating themselves to be teachers and the students were played by actors. The teacher and student would be placed in different rooms. The teacher was told to ask a series of questions, and each time the student got the wrong answer, the teacher was to administer an increasing electric shock to the student. No shock was actually delivered, rather the actor student would play a pre-recording response to the “pain” received. If the teacher asked to stop, they would be prodded to continue and be told that the teacher would not be held responsible. Only one teacher stopped before delivering a 300 volt shock and sixty-five (65) percent of the teachers delivered the final 450 volt shock. Four statements were used to encourage the teachers: (1) Please continue; (2) The experiment requires that you continue; (3) It is absolutely essential that you continue; (4) You have no other choice, you must go on.” Milgram wrote about his experiment "The Perils of Obedience" (1974).

“I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.”

Phil Zimbardo was also born in New York City in 1933 and was a high school friend of Stanley Milgram. He graduated from Brooklyn College (B.A. psychology, sociology and anthropology), and Yale University (MS, Ph.D. psychology).

In 1971, Zimbardo conducted the Stanford Prison Project in which 24 normal college students were randomly assigned to be "prisoners" or "guards" in a mock prison located in the basement of the psychology building at Stanford. The prisoners, on arrival, were stripped, searched, shaved and deloused. The guards were ordered to maintain control, but were not told how to do so. A prisoner rebellion broke out on the second day. The guards placed the leaders in solitary confinement. Going to the bathroom was considered a privilege rather than a necessity, there were hunger strikes, sadistic behavior by 1/3 of the guards, and five prisoners had to be released early. The experiment was supposed to last 2 weeks, but had to be stopped after 6 days due to the brutal treatment of inmates by guards. The experiment was stopped by an associate of Zimbardo who later became his wife. At the end of the experiment all the prisoners and guards were brought together so that there could be a release of feelings and pain.


Over the years CAP has sponsored and co-sponsored a number of conferences:

Restorative Justice: How to restore the well-being of the victim, the community, and the offender with Father Jim Consedine (September 1, 1999) at the Kaumakapili Church Hall

"Hawaii's Prison Crisis: Throwing Away the Next Generation." (October 21, 2000) held at the Central Union Church, featuring Al Bronstein, former director of the ACLU National Prison Project and others.

Shattered Lives: How Drug Laws and Prisons Hurt Hawai`i’s Families,” (2001) featuring Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris co-authors of the award winning “Shattered Lives: Portraits from America’s Drug War.”

Pūpūkahi I Holomua (United to Move Forward) Conference (November 8 & 9, 2007) held at the Honolulu Community College

"The Psychology of Evil: The ‘Lucifer Effect’ in Action" with Professor Philip G Zimbardo (Stanford Prison Project) held at the University of Hawai`i's Shidler College of Business (October 23, 2008)

Unlocking Justice Conference (2009) held at Chaminade University

Related Videos

Judge Steven Alm   (2009 Unlocking Justice Conference)

Carrie Ann Shirota  (2009 Unlocking Justice Conference) Part 1, Part 2

Michele Deitch  (2009 Unlocking Justice Conference) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Hawaii Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) with Andy Botts & Kat Brady

Geri Marullo became president and CEO of Child and Family Service (CFS) in 1998.

Renee Schuetter, RN, MEd, Clinic Manager, Executive Director: Perinatal Addiction Treatment of Hawaii (PATH) Clinic.

Lisa Haan and Jackie Bissen (2009 Unlocking Justice Conference)

Henry Curtis
Ililani Media

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Excellent work, Mr. Curtis.

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