Friday, August 03, 2012


Paper misses some key points in prison marriage story

by Larry Geller

If you subscribe to the Star-Advertiser you’ll find a story on p. A21 (Judge clears way for women to marry inmates, 8/3/2012) on the same subject as I wrote yesterday (Federal judge orders Hawaii to allow prisoners to marry their fiancés—as the state wastes more taxpayer money in defending an avoidable lawsuit, 8/2/2012). The two stories are quite different.

First, of course, this is a blog focusing on disappeared news. So I could choose not to include the names of the prisoners or their intended brides (the plaintiffs in the lawsuit). I decided that the individual names were not important to the news as I was presenting it. What I wanted to bring out was that the state was acting unconstitutionally and knew it. In fact, the state Department of Public Safety had already agreed in June 2011 not to interfere with inmate marriages.

As the ACLU explained, DPS agreed to stop the denials in June of 2011 and issued a written policy on marriage applications, but despite the policy, it continues to deny marriage applications …

So they ended up being sued, losing of course (because the Supreme Court had already ruled that inmate marriages must be allowed—see my story), and so running up court and legal expenses that will be charged to the taxpayers.

I’m pretty sure that DPS officials will not be held accountable—they’ll be allowed to keep their jobs and suffer no consequences.

The denial of the marriage requests was so egregious a waste that someone in government should look into it.

The Star-Advertiser story did not mention the Supreme Court ruling, nor that DPS knew that it must permit these marriages and had already agreed to that. It didn’t mention the prior ACLU action.

The Attorney General, the state’s attorney, either did not advise his client or did not effectively stop the illegal practice.

The case should never have gotten before a federal judge. It was totally avoidable.

In other words, a great deal of what the public needs to know about this case was not in the Star-Advertiser story. It just disappeared.


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