THE SENATE

S.C.R. NO.

156

TWENTY-FOURTH LEGISLATURE, 2008

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

REQUESTING A STUDY OF DISPARATE TREATMENT IN HAWAII'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

 

 

 


     WHEREAS, the country's foremost researchers on race and the criminal justice system have analyzed the impact of race on policing, arrests, prosecution, and sentencing; the studies have carefully controlled for case differences such as severity of the crime and the defendant's criminal background and have uniformly found overwhelming disparities based on race; and

 

     WHEREAS, there is compelling evidence that native Hawaiians have received disparate treatment in the Hawaii criminal justice system, for example:

 

     (1)  According to studies based on data from the 2000 United States Census, native Hawaiians are overrepresented in Hawaii's prisons and jails;

 

     (2)  Native Hawaiians make up only 9.1 per cent of the total population of the State, yet they make up a higher percentage of the State's prison population, with estimates varying;

 

     (3)  According to the Department of Public Safety's inmate population data of June 2006, about 22 per cent of the State's prison population was native Hawaiian;

 

     (4)  Approximately 39 per cent of all inmates identified themselves as Hawaiian or part Hawaiian;

 

     (5)  Other recent statistics establish Hawaii's inmate population at about 45 per cent native Hawaiian; and

 

     (6)  Many correctional facility workers estimate the native Hawaiian inmate population to be close to 60 per cent; and

 

     WHEREAS, native Hawaiians average 23 per cent of all arrests in Hawaii, and are twice as likely to be incarcerated as any other group in the State; and

 

     WHEREAS, in Maui County, native Hawaiian women disproportionately comprise 61 per cent of inmates in work furlough and native Hawaiian men comprise 73 per cent of male Maui County reintegration program participants (Being Empowered and Safe Together, or "B.E.S.T.", 2003); and

 

     WHEREAS, native Hawaiian males and females make up 45 per cent of all parolees statewide (Brown, 2003), and scholars have concluded that native Hawaiians are at the greatest risk of being re-arrested and returning to prison (Umemoto and Oh, 1993); and

 

     WHEREAS, studies suggest that incarceration-related risks are more problematic in families where a mother has been incarcerated; adult children of incarcerated mothers are two and one-half times more likely to be incarcerated than adult children of incarcerated fathers; 95 per cent of the one hundred twenty female Hawaii inmates incarcerated at a single mainland prison facility are mothers; and 71 per cent of the female participants in an Oahu furlough program are mothers of minor children; and

 

     WHEREAS, native Hawaiian youth arrests are most likely to end in adjudication; 47 per cent of all girls appearing in circuit court are native Hawaiian; native Hawaiians comprise 64 per cent of all circuit court juvenile defendants; and native Hawaiian youth make up 50.5 per cent of all youth in custody at Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility; and

 

     WHEREAS, native Hawaiian families are greatly impacted, as almost 60 per cent of children who are placed in child protective services are of native Hawaiian descent, and of those children, 8 per cent to 33 per cent of their parents are incarcerated; and

 

     WHEREAS, in Hawaii County, 58 per cent of incarcerated parents reported are of native Hawaiian descent; 40 per cent of those parents had involvement with Child Welfare Services; children are now being cared for by their mothers (30 per cent), grandparents (22 per cent), foster parents (10 per cent), or on their own (17 per cent); and the negative effects of incarceration on children can lead to emotional, behavioral, and psychological disturbances; and

 

     WHEREAS, 39 per cent of the 1,844 inmates from the State who are residing in contracted out-of-state correctional facilities are Hawaiian; there is growing concern that correctional facilities in Hawaii will remain overcrowded and continue to grow; and Hawaiian offenders sentenced to incarceration will continue to be transferred to contracted out-of-state facilities, further removing and disconnecting them from their families, which may lead to a higher rate of recidivism and contribute to their children's deviant behavior; and

 

     WHEREAS, a study would be helpful in determining the extent, nature, and impact of disparate treatment of native Hawaiians and other ethnic groups in Hawaii's criminal justice system; now, therefore,

 

     BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-fourth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2008, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Legislative Reference Bureau is requested to conduct a study of disparate treatment in Hawaii's criminal justice system; and

 

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in conducting the study, the Legislative Reference Bureau is requested to include, but not be limited to, the following:

 

     (1)  The extent of disparate representation of native Hawaiians and other ethnic groups in Hawaii's criminal justice system, focusing on conviction rates and sentencing outcomes, to include data from the entry point (911 calls, assessment, and arrest) to the actual process (court appearances, prosecutorial review, plea bargain, sentencing) and exit (parole, probation, and recidivism rates) of the criminal system;

 

     (2)  The causes of any racial disparities, including but not limited to Hawaii's sentencing policies and drug laws; and

 

     (3)  The barriers that disparate treatment poses to preventing recidivism and facilitating the offenders' successful re-entry into the community; and

 

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislative Reference Bureau is requested to submit, not later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2009, its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, for reducing disparities in the criminal justice system; and

 

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, the Director of the Legislative Reference Bureau, the Chairperson of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the Administrator of the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center, the Director of Public Safety, the Director of Human Services, the Chief of Police and the Prosecutor for each county, and the state and federal Public Defender.

 

 

 

 

OFFERED BY:

_____________________________

 

 

Report Title: 

OHA; Criminal Justice