UPDATE: Monday April 30 is Deadline for Bill to Release 1,195 Criminals on Streets of Hawaii
by Rep Barbara Marumoto
The Governor’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative – SB 2776, the early release bill, is ‘kapakahi”. The plan is to bring mainland prisoners back and also save money by releasing, according to Department of Public Safety answers in the House Finance Committee, 1100 prisoners in the first three years of the program.
The program is ill-designed. Will programs to help the prisoners adjust be in place the first year when most of the prisoners are let out? 410 will be released the first year, 384 in the 2nd year, 257 in the 3rd year, 111 in the 4th year, 29 in the 5th year, and 4 in the 6th year for a total release of 1,195 prisoners over 6 years.
Why not start out with a small number of prisoners – low-risk prisoners – and increase it every year to ensure that the programs are ready? By the time the kinks are worked out, the number of prisoners will have declined to a manageable number.
There will be many people who will be hired in the Judiciary, Parole Board and in Probation to carry out this program, but the number of releases decline sharply by Year 6. There is definitely a need to relieve the overburdened probation officers, but why hire so many others for what looks like a “temporary” release program?
I urge the conferees to “go slow” in designing this early release program. Earlier I criticized the Justice Reinvestment Act for not specifying that the program start out with low-risk, Class C felons to reduce the risk to public safety.