Thursday, December 21, 2017 From Kat Brady

As reported earlier, the DEIS for the replacement of OCCC includes an alarming section about the department’s plans for eliminating contact visits throughout Hawai`i facilities. Even if you go to OCCC to visit a loved one, you would be sitting in a kiosk with a video monitor where you could “visit” with your loved one who is sitting in a kiosk with a video screen in the housing unit. It is in Appendix F on page 468.

Located partially outside of security, this area will include facilities for video visitation as well as limited court functions. Various technologies will be considered for this function. Persons visiting an inmate will enter this area from the lobby and use designated video visitation booths. Video visitation will be the standard; video booths will be provided; inmates will be using the video visitation booths in their respective housing units. The only contact visits allowed will be with attorneys. Additionally, a no-contact visit area is provided for limited use. Visits will be scheduled; the hours of operation for visitation may be adjusted from time to time as needed.

            Since this is all coming from the Executive Branch, it would be powerful for the community to either call, fax, or write to the Governor (who is campaigning for re-election). Message: As a community, we want to ensure that families and loved ones will continue to have contact visits at Hawai`i correctional facilities.

Contact Info for the Governor: phone – (808) 586-0034; fax – (808) 586-0006; snail mail: Governor David Ige, Executive Chambers, Honolulu, HI 96813. Interestingly, our technology governor doesn’t appear to have an email address!

            There is so much research on the effects of prison visitation on recidivism. Eliminating touch is just another way to de-humanize people. As humans, we know that the power of a simple touch is an amazing thing. As humans, we’re designed to connect with other people. We need to be touched in order to feel loved, safe and even healthy. Research has shown that people who connect with others more often in a physical way, tend to be mentally and physically healthier than those who fly solo.

            Here is a great story with a short video embedded in it (just click on the story link). It is a wonderful piece about kids whose parents are incarcerated.

John Legend visits ‘Sesame Street’ to talk about kids with incarcerated parents.

 by Parker Molloy December 13, 2017. Both Legend and “Sesame Street” have been doing work on this topic for years.

          Singer John Legend sat down with the cast of “Sesame Street” to discuss the 2.7 million U.S. children with parents in jail or prison. The short segment featured a few of these kids telling some of the “Sesame Street” characters how they cope with not being able to see their parents on a regular basis. (A lot of them seem to enjoy drawing pictures.)

          There’s sadness in the kids’ voices, but it’s inspiring to see some of the creative ways they’re dealing with the hand they’ve been given.

          “We incarcerate so many people, and a lot of times we forget about their kids that are left behind and how it feels for them to be without parents,” Legend told People magazine about his appearance. “The emotional effect that it has on them, the financial effect it has on their families as well — I think a lot of times we forget about that toll of incarcerating so many people.” …

            It is sad that Hawai`i would even consider such a proposal, therefore, it is up to the community to express our outrage that the state is proposing things that we know promote recidivism. Contact visits are a management strategy because people don’t want to misbehave and miss their visits; they are also a way to connect people and maintain contact with the world outside the fence, which is crucial for successful reentry.

            If you are moved to contact the Governor, please do so TODAY. We need to send a strong message to this administration that the community is watching and we are not happy with plans like this to increase recidivism. Hawai`i needs to stop supporting the corporate predators who are making billions on video visitation and other “services” that ensure they will always have “customers”.

Love, Kat