Hawai’i Initiative Aims to Reduce Corrections Costs

June 28, 2011, 1:21 PM HST · Updated June 28, 1:21 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Maui Community Correctional Center. Photo by Wendy Osher.

A new state initiative entitled Justice Reinvestment, was unveiled today by Governor Neil Abercrombie.  The collaborative effort seeks to reduce the number of prisoners being sent out of state, lower the recidivism rate of offenders, and prevent crime in Hawai’i.  The plan is also aimed at reducing the overall cost of corrections for the state.

A working group has been formed to head up the initiative that includes Governor Abercrombie, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Senate President Shan Tsutsui and Director of Public Safety Jodie Maesaka-Hirata.

“We are committed to bringing Hawai’i’s prisoners home, and this partnership will help us develop a comprehensive, multi-faceted plan to see that this happens,” said Governor Abercrombie. “Justice Reinvestment will help us identify where our dollars are best spent on treatment needs that will reduce the likelihood of inmates offending again once they’re released,” he said.

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According to the Governor’s office, approximately one-third of Hawai’i’s prison population is housed at facilities on the mainland due to lack of prison space in the state.  The state recently awarded a contract to Corrections Corporation of America that provides a short-term solution to house inmates in two facilities in Arizona.

“The Justice Reinvestment Initiative helps us as lawmakers to make better policy decisions that will increase public safety for all of the citizens of Hawai’i,” said Senate President Shan S. Tsutsui, Co-Chair of the Justice Reinvestment Working Group.

In addition to the working group, the initiative involves a partnership between the state, the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, the Pew Center on the States and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Stakeholders from across Hawai’i’s criminal justice system will gather in Honolulu on Thursday, June 30, 2011 to learn more about the Justice Reinvestment approach.  The gathering at the Ala Moana Hotel will include discussion on how the concept has been applied successfully in other states, such as Texas, North Carolina, and Ohio.

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