Friday, October 3, 2003

ACLU refuses
to divulge names

The group is being ordered
to reveal its sources at the
youth correctional facility

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii is fighting a subpoena requiring it to reveal sources used in its investigation of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

The ACLU filed a motion with the state Labor Relations Board Wednesday in response to a subpoena issued to the ACLU last week. The United Public Workers union asked the board for a subpoena, which requires former ACLU legal director Brent White to appear before the board on Wednesday with the documents he used to write his report on the facility.

"The safety of the juveniles who confided in us is our primary concern, said ACLU Executive Director Vanessa Chong. "The actions of the United Public Workers union only serve to put them in danger and further harass and oppress them."

The ACLU's 34-page report alleged problems at the facility, such as physical abuse of male and female teenage inmates, overcrowding and sexual harassment against girls by male guards.

The report prompted Gov. Linda Lingle to replace top management at the Kailua youth corrections facility and order a follow-up investigation. The Attorney General's Office has also started a criminal investigation.

A hearing on the ACLU's motion has been scheduled for Tuesday before the Labor Relations Board. White is scheduled to testify Wednesday if the motion to revoke the subpoena is denied.

In the motion, White said the ACLU has received complaints from inmates who have been retaliated against since the report was made public and that guards "have been seeking to identify the inmates who 'talked.'"

White also said the teenage inmates have "expressed grave concerns that if the guards knew they were talking to the ACLU, they would be in danger of retaliation at the hands of the guards."

White resigned from the ACLU on Sept. 30 to teach at Kansai University in Japan.

The organization also contended that the information that UPW wants is protected by the attorney-client privilege and argued that the union's action violates ACLU's First Amendment rights and infringes on its ability to represent individuals.

The union is alleging the state violated its collective bargaining contract by allowing the ACLU access to the facility, Chong said.

The ACLU said the identity of the inmates and the information they provided to White has nothing to do with the charge filed by UPW against the state.

"That's a dispute between the union and the state. We are not an agent of the state," she said.

Deputy Attorney General Dan Morris said the Attorney General's Office also plans to seek revocation of the subpoena.

"It's irrelevant to the prohibited-practice case that the board is considering," Morris said.

UPW attorney Herbert Takahashi did not return calls seeking comment.

Federal law enforcement officials have arrested a former youth prison guard at the facility. Lia Olione was indicted on 10 felony counts, including allegedly sexually assaulting a female teenage inmate four times in June. Olione was captured this week in American Samoa and brought back to Hawaii.


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