Senator Will Espero, Chair

Senator Rosalyn H. Baker, Vice Chair

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

3:45 pm

State Capitol, Conference Room 224




Appropriates out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $20,520,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 20140-2015 for correctional rehabilitative programs authorized by Act 117, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012.

Aloha Senator Espero, Senator Baker and members of the Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs.  I am Palikapu Dedman, President of Ohana Ho`opakele, an organization dedicated to rescuing our pa`ahao in prison.  Our vision over the past fourteen years has been to build a Pu`uhonua or Wellness Center that heals rather than punishes.  We have distributed to you a packet that includes 1) Act 117 that you helped pass two years ago and was signed into law by Governor Abercrombie on June 15, 2012, 2) our Kahea statement signed by 1894 people, many who are cultural practitioners, religious leaders, pa`ahao themselves, lawyers and politicians like yourselves, 3) a condensed version of our Power Point presentation on the Pu`uhonua, and 4) “Is There an Uneven Administration of Justice for Native Hawaiians in Hawai`i?” A Report of the Hawai`i Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

The crucial wording included in Act 117, that this bill SB 3119 is to fund are:

The department of public safety, in cooperation with Ohana Ho'opakele and other restorative justice groups, is directed to prepare a plan for the creation of a pu'uhonua, or wellness center, on lands owned or controlled by the State.  The public land development corporation shall assist in determining an appropriate site for the center; provided that the site formerly used as the Kulani correctional facility on the island of Hawaii shall be given preference, unless another site will provide a greater possibility of success.  [Underline ours]

On February 15, 2012 Treena Shapiro wrote a story for the Associated Press when Act 117 was still a Senate bill (SB3016).  Do you know that eighty-two (82) media reports were carried in thirty-seven (37) different states in the U.S. plus Washington, D.C.?  Why did so many different states cover an article of a Pu`uhonua or a Wellness Center?  It was because all of these states know that prisons are not working!  All eyes are upon Hawai`i to show a model that works at healing pa`ahao.  Pass this bill to show that Hawai`i can be this model!

Unfortunately, the Department of Public Safety has not worked in cooperation with Ohana Ho`opakele and went ahead to bring back a minimum security prison at the Kulani site.

Ohana Ho`opakele supports this bill SB 3119 because it is having the State legislature, which passed Act 117 unanimously except for one single opposing vote in 2012, regain the leadership in funding Act 117 to implement a Pu`uhonua, not a prison.

A lot has happened within the two years since Act 117 became law and now.  The Department of Public Safety together with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs sponsored a two-day Pu`uhonua Summit on Nov. 2-3, 2012.  There was some confusion on whether a Pu`uhonua could be built within a prison.  Our advisor Richard Paglinawan finally said, “A prison is built as a place of punishment; a Pu`uhonua was a place of healing.  A Pu`uhonua cannot be placed within a prison.”  We thought it was clear, but it takes time for clarity to sink in.

You can see from our condensed Power Point presentation on the Pu`uhonua that much work and thought has been put into the development of a Pu`uhonua curriculum.  Our advisors Richard and Lynette Paglinawan have been working for years to develop a model of Ho`oponopono training and together we have worked with the Department of Public Safety staff at Hale Nani in Hilo to implement how the program can work.

We have invited Dr. RaeDeen Karasuda, who received her PhD in political science by writing The Colonial Carceral and Prison Politics in Hawai`i to Hilo and heard her speak of her curriculum that she developed and tested on ex-women pa`ahao. 

We want to thank Hawaiian businesswoman and curriculum writer Gaylene Chang Nikora for meeting with us three times and crunching the budget you have in your bill.  We also thank Senator Brickwood Galuteria for submitting this bill before the deadline.

Ohana Ho`opakele wants to urge you to pass this bill.  It funds Act 117 which mandated the Department of Public Safety to implement a Pu`uhonua at Kulani.  The Department of Public Safety ignored Act 117 and moved to bring back a prison at Kulani.  Ohana Ho`opakele had to file a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief against the department as the only means to stop the prison and force them to abide by Act 117.  Although the Department of Public Safety has been adequately funded by the State legislature and does not need any funds to implement a Pu`uhonua at Kulani, this bill will help pressure them to do what they were supposed to do all along.

Ohana Ho’opakele requests that you amend this bill by naming the bill: Relating to a Pu`uhonua at Kulani.  We also think that in the implementation of the bill, the exact amount and categories may change.  Our opinion is that $7 million is adequate for 200 pa`ahao chosen from those who have one year left on their prison sentence who have been screened for their seriousness to enter a Pu`uhonua.  The amount quoted by the Department of Public Safety that is the cost of incarcerating a pa`ahao at Saguaro prison in Eloy, AZ is $35,000 a year.  200 X $35,000 = $7 million.  We think the Department of Public Safety already has these funds and this is the amount that we believe is adequate for funding one year of a Pu`uhonua at the existing facility at Kulani.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify!