The Hawaii Justice Coalition is Committed to Safer Communities At Less Expense.
- The State of Hawaii is preparing to spend $565 million for a new jail.
- The Hawaii Justice Coalition opposes building a large jail to replace the Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC).
- A new jail will not bring Hawaii prisoners in Arizona home. A jail and a prison are not the same. A prison, such as the one in Arizona, holds felons convicted of more serious crimes with sentences of more than a year. A jail holds pre-trial detainees and people with sentences of a year or less.
- Jails do not make us safer. Almost all people held at OCCC are charged with or guilty of minor crimes. They will be out in the community again in a year or less.
- Time spent in jail takes a toll on mental health, family connections, and the ability to earn a living, increasing poverty and homelessness.
- States and municipalities throughout the country have found that they save money and their communities are safer when they use alternatives to jail.
- The money spent locking people up at $150 a day could be better spent on alternatives such as mental health and drug treatment programs. These measures would create a safer community and reduce the jail population.
We need to reduce the jail population before making decisions about a new jail by:
- Releasing people charged with minor crimes who are awaiting trial and cannot afford bail. 47% of people at OCCC have not been convicted (HCR85 Task Force), Most cannot afford bail.
- Fund diversion programs to provide mental health and drug treatment instead of charging people for minor crimes.
Sentencing review and reducing sentences, with the recognition that overly long sentences hurt both the convicts and taxpayers, who pay for their support in jail and may have to pay for social services or welfare for years afterward.
- Bringing probation requirements into the 21st century. A high proportion of people released from jail or prison are unable to meet current requirements of probation or parole, not because they commit a new crime.
- Building low-income housing instead of jail cages. Many arrestees are homeless; their crimes are related to poverty and lack of housing. Money spent on those issues saves us money in the long run.