H.C.R. NO.


















WHEREAS, one finding from the 2012 report of the Native Hawaiian Justice Task Force was that "Native Hawaiians have suffered from severe intergenerational, historical, and political trauma from the loss of land, language, and culture. This collective trauma has negative economic, health, cultural, and educational impacts on individuals, and often manifests itself in criminal activity. Any effort to reduce the number of Native Hawaiians who come in contact with the criminal justice system must include a multi-pronged approach to addressing this trauma"; and


WHEREAS, studies have shown that the criminal justice system disproportionately impacts Native Hawaiians, that this disproportionate impact accumulates at each stage of the system, and that Native Hawaiians are more likely to receive a prison sentence than any other ethnic group; and


WHEREAS, another finding from the Native Hawaiian Justice Task Force report was that "[w]ithout proactive policy and oversight, there is no indication that the disproportionate representation of Native Hawaiians in the criminal justice system will abate"; and


WHEREAS, since 1977, the number of people incarcerated in the State has increased more than nine hundred percent, creating an unprecedented level of overcrowding at the State's jails and prisons; and


WHEREAS, to address this overcrowding, Hawaii has relied on contracted private, for-profit prisons to house a significant portion of the State's inmate population for more than two decades; and


WHEREAS, inmates who serve their sentences in these out-of-state facilities are effectively exiled thousands of miles away from their families, friends, and crucial support networks, and experience negative impacts associated with dislocation from home, culture, and post-prison job prospects; and


WHEREAS, Native Hawaiians, who are more likely to be transferred to out-of-state prisons than inmates of other ethnicities, feel these impacts disproportionately in part because they are forced to serve their sentences thousands of miles away from their ancestral homelands; and


WHEREAS, despite this physical isolation from their home, a number of distinguished and respected Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners have dedicated time and energy to travel to correctional facilities, both on the mainland United States and within Hawaii, to teach inmates traditional native practices such as hula and oli, the Hawaiian language, and Hawaiian religious ceremonies; and


WHEREAS, the revered kumu who take on this important task do so at no cost to the State, including those who perform this valuable service at private prisons in Arizona, three thousand miles away from Hawaii; and


WHEREAS, the inmates who have participated in these programs have found it to be a valuable and transformative experience, including many participants who had not previously been in touch with their cultural roots and were truly connecting with their culture for the first time; and


WHEREAS, the opportunity to participate in these programs helps inmates to reclaim their dignity, acquire a connection to their culture, attain a strong sense of identity, gain mental strength, and rehabilitate, both as they serve their sentences and when they return home to reenter society and reconnect with families and others whom the inmates had been separated from during their sentences; and


WHEREAS, as inmates invest the time to learn their culture, some have become so proficient in the practices that they became kumu themselves, sharing their knowledge to other prisoners and becoming leaders within their communities; and


WHEREAS, the impact that these programs have on inmates was highlighted in Ciara Lacy's documentary "Out of State," which illustrated how the use of culture-based rehabilitation activities impacted Hawaii-born inmates serving sentences in an Arizona prison both during their stay in the prison and after they returned to Hawaii; and


WHEREAS, "Out of State" has been shown at more than thirty festivals around the world, from the Hawaii International Film Festival in Hawaii to the Cayman International Film Festival in the Cayman Islands to Berlinale in Berlin, Germany; and


WHEREAS, at these screenings, "Out of State" received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and audiences and won a number of awards, including Best Feature Film and Audience Choice Award Best Feature Film at the Hawaii International Film Festival, and Best Feature Film at the Made in Hawaii Film Festival; and


WHEREAS, the Native Hawaiian Justice Task Force, recognizing that culturally-based programs are effective and should be expanded upon, recommended in its report that "[t]he State should recognize and support community and grassroots efforts that promote indigenous cultural practice models demonstrated to be successful in Hawaii or elsewhere"; and


WHEREAS, the success of culture-based rehabilitation activities shows that these programs may be helpful in other contexts, including as a means to end the school-to-prison pipeline, which also disproportionately impacts Native Hawaiians; and


WHEREAS, the use of culture-based rehabilitation activities should be encouraged and the individuals who dedicate their time and energy to make these programs possible should be recognized; now, therefore,


BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, the Senate concurring, that the Department of Public Safety is urged to recognize the value of culture-based rehabilitation activities in the State's correctional system; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the use of and access to culture-based rehabilitation activities in the State should be increased; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Hawaii Paroling Authority is requested to promote participation in culture-based rehabilitation activities and to provide appropriate credit to inmates participating in those activities for purposes of parole decisions; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that any new correctional facility built in the State be designed to include specific space and facilities for culture-based rehabilitation activities; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, Director of Public Safety, Chairperson of the Hawaii Paroling Authority, and director and producers of the "Out of State" film.









Report Title:

Department of Public Safety; Corrections; Culture-Based Rehabilitation