Prisoners jump the line

I don’t know what it is with Hawai‘i Democrats and their prisoners.

In 2006, Randall Iwase tried to wrest the governorship from Linda Lingle on a promise to create a “prison industry” — an issue that landed with one of the all-time great thuds.

Now comes Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who before he has done a thing to keep his campaign promises to straighten out the deficit-ridden state budget and stimulate the economy, is making a priority of bringing home the 1,900 Hawai‘i felons serving their time in mainland prisons.

There’s nothing wrong with striving to improve conditions for prisoners, but in what sane universe do they jump to the front of the line in a crushing recession — ahead of law-abiding working families and needy children, seniors and sick people who have lost their safety net?

The prisoners were first sent to the mainland by the last Democratic governor, Ben Cayetano, because local prisons were overcrowded and no Hawai‘i community would host new facilities.

It was no small side benefit in Cayetano’s recession and the current one that it costs half as much to house a prisoner on the mainland as in Hawai‘i.

The latest call to bring the prisoners home was spurred by a lawsuit alleging inmate abuse in an Arizona facility. Ironically, it came out around the same time as news footage broke showing Hawai‘i prison guards giving a prisoner an extended beating and kicking him in the head while he was on the ground.

The Abercrombie administration proposes to get around the overcrowding problem in local prisons by turning up to 1,000 inmates loose into community-based reentry programs. The problem is that few such programs exist and would have to be funded and built out.

Many Hawai‘i inmates are doing fine in mainland prisons — some have said they prefer it because of better rehabilitation opportunities — and it’s the wrong time to be devoting more state resources to their incarceration when there are far more pressing needs.

The new administration needs to learn that having too many priorities is the same as having no priorities at all.

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7 Comments on “Prisoners jump the line”

  1. WooWoo Says:

    He’s taking a big risk by being so public about this. You can give clear instructions to your PSD director behind the scenes to bring ’em home, but now there’s footage of Neil saying it. It only takes one Willie Horton and a 16 year old kid with a Mac to put together a devastating campaign ad for 2014.

  2. Richard Gozinya Says:

    I propose we start combining all these contentious issues and solve them at one fell swoop. Or two fell swoops if need be. Example:

    We bring the prisoners back, make them clean up the medical waste at Ko Olina, pack it in plastic bags brought back from Maui and have them carry it on a Train to Nowhere until an alternate dump site, replete with beaten peacocks, is decided. Oh yeah, the train will shoot off illegal fireworks that spell Calvin Say’s name in the sky.

    Do I have to think of everything around here?

  3. Michael Says:

    Family of inmates should pay the Bill to keep inmates in prison. Medical should also be paid by
    families of inmates only.
    Not the tax payers. The tax payers should pay taxes for maintaining State and County facilities. Not to house criminals. All that money can go to school furloughs and End furloughs PERIOD. Facilities that a free person who did no crime should enjoy. Money that can be used to help a homeless get back on their feet again. Criminals
    regardless of reason, do the crime and do the time
    but not on my expense.

  4. shaftalley Says:

    we really should seriously consider legalizing drugs.government prohibition with its’insane war on drug policies results in violence,gang warfare,and drug addicts taking meth in greater numbers because it’s cheap and ironically more available than ever before.why is that?economics.more people are becoming willing for cash,to go to pharmacies and purchase the ingredients for drug dealers.students,seniors,homeless people,the unemployed are all willing to be recruited by these drug “cooks” for fast cash.

  5. zzzzzing Says:

    Dave, let’s hope that there is someone out there with a Mac OR PC making these campaign ads right now.

    sa… right… legalize drugs kinda like how alcohol was legalized – look how well that’s working out for us. I can see the PSA’s now, featuring “Mothers Against Drug Driving.”

  6. shaftalley Says:

    i believe in the founding principles of individual lberty.i’m not going to give prohibition the benefit of the doubt.

  7. charles Says:

    One obvious benefit of bringing back prisoners is that their families can visit them far more easily than they presently can.

    The vast majority of prisoners will be released someday and I would think most would want to be with their families.

    Also, it does cost more to house prisoners in Hawaii but there is a ripple effect when those dollars paid to guards, vendors, etc., stay in Hawaii.

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