THE SENATE

S.C.R. NO.

8

TWENTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE, 2009

 

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 about twenty 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 twenty-two per cent of the State's prison population was Native Hawaiian;

 

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

 

     (5)  Other recent statistics establish Hawaii's inmate population at about forty-five per cent Native Hawaiian; and

 

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

 

     WHEREAS, Native Hawaiians average twenty-three 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 sixty-one per cent of inmates in work furlough and Native Hawaiian men comprise seventy-three 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 forty-five 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; ninety-five per cent of the one hundred twenty female Hawaii inmates incarcerated at a single mainland prison facility are mothers; and seventy-one 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; forty-seven per cent of all girls appearing in circuit court are Native Hawaiian; Native Hawaiians comprise sixty-four 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 sixty per cent of children who are placed in child protective services are of Native Hawaiian descent, and of those children, 8 per cent to thirty-three per cent of their parents are incarcerated; and

     WHEREAS, in Hawaii County, fifty-eight per cent of incarcerated parents reported are of Native Hawaiian descent; forty per cent of those parents had involvement with Child Welfare Services; children are now being cared for by their mothers (thirty per cent), grandparents (twenty-two per cent), foster parents (ten per cent), or on their own (seventeen per cent); and the negative effects of incarceration on children can lead to emotional, behavioral, and psychological disturbances; and

 

     WHEREAS, thirty-nine 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 in Hawaii's criminal justice system; now, therefore,

 

     BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-fifth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2009, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is requested to contract with a nationally respected and objective consulting firm to conduct a study of disparate treatment of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii's criminal justice system; and

 

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

 

     (1)  The extent of disparate representation of Native Hawaiians 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 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 Office of Hawaiian Affairs is requested to submit, not later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2010, the consultant's findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, for reducing disparate treatment of Native Hawaiians in Hawaii's criminal justice system; and

 

     BE IT further resolved that all government agencies involved in Hawaii's criminal justice system are requested to provide their full cooperation and all relevant data and other information to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and its consultant during the planning and implementation of the study; and

 

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees 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 Prosecuting Attorney for each county, and the state and federal Public Defender.

 

 

 

 

OFFERED BY:

____________________________

 

 

By Request

Report Title:

Criminal Justice System; Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians