State to pay $625,000 in youth prison suit
Inmates at the state's youth prison claimed abuse because of their sexual orientation
The state will pay $625,000 and change its polices at the state's only youth prison to settle a lawsuit over alleged abuse of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inmates, according to terms of a proposed settlement.
The lawsuit involves three inmates at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility who are lesbian, transgender and gay, the attorney general's office said.
They claimed the guards made humiliating remarks and failed to protect a male-to-female transgender prisoner from other inmates. They also said correctional officers did not intervene when they were harassed by other youths in the prison.
The state attorney general's office and the American Civil Liberties Union have agreed to the dollar figure of the settlement, but they are still trying to decide how to divide the money, said Deputy Attorney General John Molay.
The settlement would give $600,000 to the three inmates and the ACLU. The other $25,000 would be spent on a contract with an expert to form new sexual orientation policies at the youth prison, Molay said.
"I believe this is an appropriate settlement," he said. "We're trying to agree to what the state's obligation will be in terms of drafting the new policies."
The state does not admit wrongdoing in the settlement of the lawsuit, which was filed in September.
Lois Perrin, legal director for ACLU of Hawaii, said the agreement will help ensure that the sexual orientation of teenagers kept at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility are respected.
"The goal of the settlement is to ensure the conditions at HYCF are safe for all current and future lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual wards," Perrin said. "We are working with the state to ensure that appropriate policies, procedures and training will be adopted."
An injunction ordered by U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright in March called for the state to create policies against physical and verbal abuse of inmates perceived to be lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender.
It also prevents guards from locking youths alone or addressing them with slurs "used to convey hatred, contempt or prejudice."
A separate agreement reached in February with the Justice Department forces the state to fix the prison.
In that case, inmates said they were beaten, locked alone in cells for days and denied medical care by untrained guards.