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AG Chin: How a lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America became the Left’s darling
By Selected News Articles @ 2:47 PM :: 2778 Views :: Politicians

Douglas Chin, Hawaii State Attorney General

Douglas Chin - Not the progressive you think he is

How a lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America became the Left’s darling

by Karen from Maui, Daily Kos, Wednesday Sep 13, 2017 

Hawai'i Attorney General, Douglas Chin, has been lauded for challenging Trump's Travel Ban although the reality is that Neal Katyal, has been hired to litigate the case.

Hawai'i Gov David Ige appointed Chin who serves at the governor's pleasure.  Which might explain how a notorious lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America and buddy of the Republican District Attorney and Mayor of Honolulu, Peter Carlisle, has seemingly taken a left turn.  Gov. Ige told him to.

Fans of Douglas Chin most likely don't know his history - particularly since his Wikipedia entry has been scrubbed of inconvenient facts like:

  • Chin was a lobbyist of private prison operation, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
  • Subsequently as AG he reviewed and authorized CCA contracts worth $34 million to export Hawaii prisoners to a CCA prison in Arizona.
  • Chin was a law and order deputy prosecutor for the City and County of Honolulu where he advocated criminalizing homelessness
  • Chin opposed criminal justice reform that would have reduced incarceration rates for nonviolent offenders  (Funny how that turned out to benefit his bosses at CCA!)
  • Chin, as deputy to Republican Mayor Peter Carlisle, was accused of enabling developer pay-to-play deals for Carlisle.
  • As Honolulu Managing Director, Chin cut bus routes during the controversial and corruption-ridden rail project and continued his campaign to make it illegal for the homeless to sleep on state land.
  • As a corporate lawyer for Carlsmith Ball, Chin worked for big banks and Wall Street investment firms, against Hawaii's working families.

Private Prisons - Hawai'i Outsources Prisoners

In 2011, 54 percent  of Hawai'i prisoners were housed on the mainland with CCA.  Vice wrote an article on the dangerous CCA conditions and death of a mentally disabled Hawai'i prisoner. This was only one example of the problems with CCA which has kept the issue of outsourcing Hawai'i prisoners a hot topic.

And Douglas Chin is on the wrong side of it.

Why does Hawai'i incarcerate a higher percentage of their prisoners in private CCA prisons far away on the mainland? One possibility is the skilled lobbying effort of Douglas Chin working on behalf of CCA.

In 2010 the Hawai'i State Auditor attacked Hawaii's crooked deal with CCA

CCA lobbies for keeping marijuana illegal and for other measures that increase their profits by increasing the number of incarcerated people through their membership in ALEC.  In Hawai'i that lobbying effort has been spectacularly successful, in part thanks to Douglas Chin.  According to the Office of Hawaiian affairs, "Since 1977, the number of people incarcerated in Hawai‘i has increased more than 900 percent"  

OHA goes on to say that Native Hawaiians are disproportionately impacted by this increased incarceration.

Hawai'i can thank Douglas Chin not only for his successful lobbying for more CCA housed prisoners but for his role as AG resulting in so many of the lawsuits by those prisoners against CCA going nowhere and his cooperation in approving $34,000,000 in payments to CCA despite the illegal way their contract came about.

Criminalizing Homelessness

Hawaii has the highest per capita homeless rate in the nation.  AG Chin has advocated for a bill that will further increase homelessness by criminalizing trespassing on State land.  Homelessness in Hawaii is already rising at the fastest rate in the nation.

Opposing Hawaiian Homestead Funding

In exchange for taking the native Hawaiian land, the U.S. Congress created the Hawaiian Homestead law in 1921 which provided for kanaka maoli (native Hawaiians) to have land on which to build homes.  The Hawaii state constitution requires the legislature to fund the administration of this program.

Hawaiians brought suit because administration was not being adequately funded resulting in long wait lists and inadequate oversight of the program.  AG Douglas Chin has continued state opposition to the lawsuit asking for the legislature to appropriate adequate funds.

Supports "Slaver" Fishing

Hawaii law restricts the issuance of commercial fishing licenses to persons “lawfully admitted to the United States”. Fishing trawlers recruit foreign fishermen to fish in Hawaii waters but these men are not allowed to enter the state because they have no visa.  There is a trick to allowing them to fish which is they are put under a deportation order and turned over to the captain to be "detained on board".

They become virtual slaves to the captain, unable to leave the boat, their passports and papers confiscated.  If they become ill, they are just dumped on some island to fend for themselves.

Obviously if a fisherman is under a deportation order to be  “detained on board” the slaver ship, they do not meet the requirement for obtaining a Hawai’i fishing license.

After attempting to get AG Chin to rule that these trafficked fishermen should not be issued state licenses with no result, a Hawaiian fisherman filed suit.  The case is still in the legal system.

Supported Widespread Agricultural Burning on Maui

Chin supported one of Hawaii's largest corporations to continue burning their sugarcane approximately 200 days per year despite health effects on residents.  Missionary company, Alexander & Baldwin (A&B) joined with Chin to fight the lawsuit filed by Maui residents.  Chin supported A&B in burning their entire 35,000 acre plantation despite a Stanford University study which showed that biomass burning contributes significantly to climate change.

Cutting Bus Routes

Honolulu City and County has the third worst traffic in the nation. While Chin was deputy to Mayor Peter Carlisle, he cut bus routes to "save money".

Supported Aquarium Collecting

Hawaii reef fish are being devastated by coral bleaching, sea temperature rise, over-use by the tourist industry, and the coup de grâce, aquarium collecting which takes over five million reef fish every year.

AG Chin has continued to fight against those who wanted curbs on aquarium fishing and just recently lost the case against it.


Lest you think that Chin is not a smart lawyer because he's lost these cases, that is not true.  He has just been defending business interests who have violated the law and quite rightly the courts have smacked him down.  Don't let his one good act (suing over the Muslim Ban) mislead you into thinking he is not the ultimate corporate tool.  He is no progressive.  Not even close.


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