Judge allows week to craft youth facility injunction
A federal judge has given attorneys one week to draft an injunction to protect lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender wards at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility until a lawsuit alleging abuse and harassment of such inmates can be decided.
Attorneys for the state and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii say they are far apart on an agreement but will try to negotiate something by next Tuesday's deadline.
When asked whether he was confident that an agreement could be reached, Attorney General Mark Bennett flatly replied, "No."
"I'm not confident that we can reach an agreement on the language of an injunction, no, but we'll certainly try," Bennett said. "We've been trying; it didn't succeed. We'll try some more."
Lois Perrin, legal director for the ACLU of Hawaii, echoed his sentiments.
"We're certainly willing to try and come up with agreed-upon language," Perrin said. "Our objective here is to ensure that the discrimination and harassment of (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) wards at HYCF is fixed and that it's fixed promptly."
The ACLU sued in September on behalf of three former wards who alleged they were harassed and abused because of their actual or perceived gender identity and that administrators knew of the problems but did nothing to stop it.
U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright ordered the injunction last week, finding that there was enough evidence to support their claims.
He left it up to the state and the ACLU to draft the injunction to be consistent with any agreement reached between the state and the U.S. Department of Justice over reform at the youth prison. An agreement on a three-year plan to improve conditions at the facility was announced the same day as Seabright's injunction ruling.
If the two sides cannot reach an agreement on an injunction, Seabright said he would issue one himself.
Bennett said the ACLU's proposed language was too broad and not specific enough to inform workers at the youth prison of what they would be barred from doing.
The state also objected to having a monitor appointed by the court to oversee the policies and procedures being implemented to prevent abuse and harassment of wards.
Bennett noted that as part of the negotiated agreement with the Justice Department, the state has retained a national expert on secured youth facilities who will work with the state to implement the agreed-upon reforms.
Perrin said she wanted to make sure that any expert retained by the state has experience working with "vulnerable" youths, and in particular experience working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths.
She said her main objection to the state's injunction proposal was that it "doesn't have a lot of teeth."
"It does not set forth any sort of comprehensible deadline," she said. "It doesn't have any intermediate benchmarks to determine when policies and procedures need to be in place."