HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

1082

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to correctional facilities.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that mass incarceration has become the subject of increasing scrutiny and criticism. Opponents of mass incarceration note that, instead of producing safer communities, the construction of more jails and prisons has led to disproportionately negative impacts on communities of color, particularly indigenous populations. These opponents instead advocate for evidence-based models of rehabilitation; addiction treatment; job training; restorative justice programs; and traditional cultural practices that promote a sense of belonging and pride.

The legislature also finds that rushing to expand state correctional facilities without pausing to thoughtfully re-evaluate systemic issues within the State's corrections system ignores the intersecting local values of community input and environmental protection.

Further, the legislature believes that the planned construction of a new and larger jail on Oahu to replace the existing Oahu community correctional center is a significantly flawed undertaking. First, the jail was planned without adequate input or guidance from community stakeholders. Second, insufficient time was spent on identifying factors that have led to an increase in the jail population and on developing policy proposals that could significantly reduce the number of inmates without compromising public safety.

The legislature notes that a recent positive development has been the formation of a Hawaii correctional system oversight commission, which was established pursuant to Act 179, Session Laws of Hawaii 2019 (Act 179). The five-member volunteer commission has held regular meetings and conducted other business in accordance with its legislative mandate, despite being stymied by the lack of support staff, including an oversight coordinator, to which it is entitled.

In November 2020, the correctional system oversight commission unanimously issued a strong recommendation that the department of public safety "immediately pause the planning for the new jail and create an Advisory Committee to review, and if necessary revise, the planning that has been done to date, and to actively participate in the planning process going forward." (Emphasis in original.) In explaining this recommendation, the commission cited the importance of first conducting a comprehensive analysis of ways to reduce the jail population before making decisions on the jail's capacity, programs it should provide, and its role in the community. The legislature notes that, while Act 179 also established a permanently funded criminal justice research institute to examine all aspects of the criminal justice system and to collect data necessary for monitoring the overall functioning of the criminal justice system, more time is needed to collect data relevant to the jail's optimal capacity.

The legislature is acutely aware that, faced with the massive budget shortfall resulting from economic devastation caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, it would be prudent to seriously reconsider proceeding with a $525,000,000 construction project that was predicated on obsolete ideas and a flawed planning process. Further, while using public-private partnerships to finance state building costs may be an appealing option in times of financial crisis, the legislature is cognizant of the fact that other states are contemplating ending their existing contracts with private prison corporations. It is widely known that these types of corporations have profited from rising stock values and by constructing numerous detention centers to house undocumented immigrants. Ironically, the State may even negate any potential cost savings achieved from maintaining or expanding contracts with a private prison corporation if the corporation is organized as a real estate investment trust. Because a real estate investment trust pools the capital of numerous investors, individual investors earn dividends from real estate investments without directly buying, managing, or financing any properties. Thus, partnering with a private prison corporation classified as a real estate investment trust to construct a new jail could ultimately cost the State much more than if the State had financed the project on its own, because much of the funds contributed by the State under the partnership would go toward enriching the corporation's shareholders.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to:

(1) Establish a moratorium on the construction of any new correctional facilities in the State, including the planned construction of a new facility to replace the existing Oahu community correctional center; and

(2) Require the department of public safety to obtain the approval of the Hawaii correctional system oversight commission before constructing any new correctional facility or expanding any existing correctional facility.

SECTION 2. Chapter 353, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding two new sections to part I to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"353- In-state correctional facilities; moratorium. (a) Notwithstanding sections 353-16.35, 353-16.36, or any other law to the contrary, no person, including any government agency or public or private entity, shall construct a new correctional facility in the State on or after July 1, 2021.

(b) For the purposes of this section, "new correctional facility" means any prison or community correctional center that has not housed an inmate prior to July 1, 2021.

353- Construction and development of new correctional facilities; approval of Hawaii correctional system oversight commission required. (a) No new correctional facility shall be constructed and no existing correctional facility shall be expanded unless the construction or expansion is first approved by the Hawaii correctional system oversight commission.

(b) To facilitate the approval or disapproval of a proposed new or expanded correctional facility as provided in subsection (a), the department shall submit the following information to the Hawaii correctional system oversight commission upon the commission's request:

(1) The proposed maximum inmate population of the facility;

(2) Any programs proposed for the facility, including reentry programs, facility educational and treatment programs, rehabilitative services, work furloughs, and parole services; and

(3) Any other relevant information required by the commission, as established by rules adopted pursuant to chapter 91."

SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2021.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________


 


 

Report Title:

Public Safety; Correctional Facilities; Construction; Moratorium; Hawaii Correctional Oversight Commission

 

Description:

Establishes a moratorium on the construction of any new correctional facilities in the State on or after 7/1/2021, including the planned construction of a new facility to replace the existing Oahu community correctional center. Prohibits the construction of new correctional facilities or the expansion of existing correctional facilities without the approval of the Hawaii correctional system oversight commission.

 

 

 

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