Monday, July 19, 2004

Forum to tackle
juvenile detention

The free meeting will discuss ways
to cut detention of children

Youth services experts and community members will gather tomorrow at a forum aimed at exploring alternatives to juvenile incarceration in Hawaii.

"Kids Behind Bars -- Rethinking Juvenile Justice in Hawaii" will include five panelists. Attendees are expected to discuss what options are available to juveniles who commit crimes and how the state can funnel more money into centers that focus on treatment rather than detention.

The meeting is sponsored by the Hawaii Juvenile Justice Project, which was formed in the wake of a 34-page report that alleged problems of overcrowding and inmate abuse at the Hawaii Youth Community Correctional Facility.

The American Civil Liberties Union's Hawaii chapter released the report in August.

Carolyn Brown, a justice project committee member and deputy public defender, said the forum will not provide quick-fix solutions to alleged problems within the state's juvenile justice system.

"I think it's more raising awareness and opening people's minds to the fact that a lot of the juveniles shouldn't be there (at HYCF)," she said.

Representatives from several state and private agencies whose clients include children are expected to attend the session. Brown said HYCF executives have been invited to the forum.

Mae Mendelson, executive director of the Hawaii Intergenerational Network, will serve as the forum's moderator. Her program fosters links between generations with advocacy and education.

The forum's panelists are:

» John Reppun, a Kahaluu Neighborhood Board member and interim executive director of the Kualoa-Heeia Ecumenical Youth Project.

» Jack Sullivan, of HYCF's Citizens Liaison Committee.

» Paul Coronel and Rafael Enriquez, both representatives of the Hawaii Foster Youth Coalition.

The free forum will be held in the Kahaluu Pavilion at 47-200 Waihee Road from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

This is the third of seven justice project gatherings aimed at addressing different aspects of the juvenile justice system in Hawaii. According to the Hawaii justice project's mission statement, its goal is to "increase statewide community support for the appropriate community placement of children who should not be detained at HYCF."


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