Thursday, June 26, 2003

Mansho starts probation
after serving year in jail

Former City Councilwoman Rene Mansho was released early yesterday morning from the Women's Community Correctional Center, where she served a year for felony theft convictions.

Mansho, who went on five years' probation yesterday, caught the bus after her 5:40 a.m. release from the Kailua prison, said John Kellam, warden of the women's prison.

Mansho was sentenced to prison last June after pleading guilty in April 2002 to two counts of felony theft for misusing city and campaign funds. In addition to using Council staff to do campaign work during office hours, Mansho used her position and campaign funds to promote Aloha Boat Days, a program funded by the cruise ship industry.

A Circuit Court judge also required Mansho to pay a $25,000 fine, in addition to the $40,000 she had already paid to the Campaign Spending Commission and $40,000 in restitution made to the city.

For the past two months, Mansho went to a day-reporting work program, which allowed her to go home evenings and weekends, while on an electronic monitoring device.

Last year, Ted Sakai, director of the Department of Public Safety, raised questions about whether Mansho was receiving special treatment by being housed in a two-person drug treatment cell instead of the prison dormitory.

Mansho was ordered moved to dormitory housing.

Kellam explained that she was held in a drug treatment cottage for three or four days to acclimate her to being incarcerated for the first time to protect her from herself and others.

Kellam said: "She didn't request, nor did she receive, special housing or treatment. That was our position from day one."

She performed a mandatory 240 hours of kitchen duty, then applied for grounds maintenance, which she performed until her release, Kellam said.

Mansho could have performed office work but chose the more physically demanding outdoor work, he said. Kellam said he did not allow Mansho to perform service work in the community because he thought it would create a media frenzy and distract other inmates from their work.

The warden said Mansho did well in prison. "She got a great deal of respect from the other women," Kellam said. She acted as a mentor, tutoring fellow inmates taking adult education.

Mansho, who was an elementary school teacher before becoming a councilwoman, also helped rejuvenate the prison book club, Kellam said. Participation leaped to 22 from four or five, he said.

While in prison, Mansho lost a lot of weight, Kellam said, not because of stress, but from dieting and quitting smoking.

"She would be the only one that would come out smiling and smelling like roses," said Maureen Andrade, a former staff aide. "I really hope that she had learned from the mistakes."

Michelle Kidani, a former Council aide who was one of the potential witnesses against Mansho, said: "As far as I'm concerned, she served her sentence. She deserves a chance to become a part of the community, and I wish her and her family the best."


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