Senate Bill 932: Public safety at stake
Prison system needs updated methods
There are inmates who must be kept in prison due to the nature of their crimes. There are also nonviolent inmates who could probably be released with proper supervision, monitoring, assistance and programs. Our prison population is increasing, and a different approach to handling our offenders must be implemented.
With little direction from the Lingle administration through her first term, the Legislature instituted a new approach this past session entailing re-entry programs and rehabilitation for our prison population. Recidivism issues must be addressed, and the need to prepare our inmates and their families through innovative community-driven services and programs is the national trend today. Hawaii should embrace this model and become a leader in prison reform. Senate Bill 932 is the beginning of this new approach and attitude.
The Lingle administration has concerns with the measure, however, interim public safety director Clayton Frank should use this bill as an opportunity to turn Hawaii's prison system around by emphasizing treatment and rehabilitation for those inmates who would benefit. Hard-core criminals will still be confined, but where more successful, inexpensive approaches are possible, we must change our way of thinking to help those who can be rehabilitated.
The Legislature understands the state's cautious view. But the Department of Public Safety is in a position to implement a progressive approach to dealing with our inmate population, and it should plan and design the proposed prison in Puunene, Maui, based on this new approach. I know there are unions, businesses, community-based, faith-based and culturally sensitive programs that would be willing to work with our state to deal with our prison population.
The return of prisoners from the mainland is inevitable. The DPS must implement an innovative plan that incorporates SB 932 in this process. Now is not the time to say it cannot be done; the interim director must say it can be done and here's how we will do it. Action is now needed on SB 932, not excuses. Your Legislature is watching and willing to assist where needed. The public safety of our community is also our top priority.
Sen. Will Espero
(D, Ewa-Honouliuli-Ewa Beach)
Chairman, Senate Public Safety Committee
Prisoner return bill is flawed policy, period
Read the response
by Senate President Colleen Hanabusa to Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona's July 8 guest column
and you have to wonder whether she really understands the difference between what "a flawed bill is vs. one that the administration simply disagrees with."
That touched a nerve with me because the administration tried to reach out to lawmakers to fix the bills that would expose our state to potential lawsuits.
Take the veto override of SB 932 for example, which requires the Department of Public Safety to return inmates from the mainland a year prior to their parole or release date, whether or not there are adequate facilities to house them and without considering if the inmates have completed their rehabilitation programs. The bill also requires inmates to be incarcerated in facilities closest to their families -- without providing a means to do so.
Our prisons are already overcrowded and mandating the state to accept these new inmates beyond capacity will put public safety and inmate security at risk, cause unsafe conditions for prisoners, expose the state to liability and could result in the early release of prisoners.
No matter how Hanabusa tries to spin it, SB 932 is a flawed policy and the administration was right to try to fix it.
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No need to replace balloting machines
The optical scan ballot system in Hawaii works well in my experience. We have the opportunity to get a new ballot if there is a mistake, and the paper is always available for a recount.
Rather than replacing a system that is not broken just before a presidential election year (Star-Bulletin, July 16), our election officials should be working on improving the tabulating phase. That's the area that needs improvement.
Daniel C. Smith
Price of paradise too costly for most
Now that I am retired from the travel business, I have the time to visit my "other" home, Hawaii.
A few months ago on one of my visits to Oahu I met a friend of more than 20 years at 6 a.m. for coffee. We met under the banyan tree at the Moana. It is so quiet and peaceful at that time of the morning.
This has always been a favorite spot of mine to sip my morning coffee and watch the sunrise. The soft tradewinds, sound of the waves and the glorious colors of the sky make you realize what a paradise Hawaii is.
Now that I have the time to visit this paradise, I'm not sure I will be able to afford to as often as I would like.
My trip cost me about $3,000. The cost of air, hotels and food has gone up and up and up! Paradise is pricing itself out of the market for the average person. The economy on the mainland is down, senior citizens are on limited incomes, so who can afford airfares of $700 to $900 per person and hotels at $l70-$200 and up per night? Only the rich. Certainly not people families, the middle class or seniors.
I believe the visitor industry will suffer if hoteliers and airlines don't get realistic with their prices.
(Former Hawaii tour developer and guide)
Senators harm nation in name of politics
The all-nighter in the Senate last week highlighted Republican stonewalling of important legislation. It is like reading dark comedy when you look at the bills blocked by the current crop of Republicans: cheaper drug prices for the elderly, minimum wage for the working poor, ethics reform in their own chamber, cleaning up the environment and, worst of all, peace.
Senate Republicans want the Democrats to own this war, but the American people aren't stupid and partisan politics is killing our loved ones and innocent Iraqis.
I am proud of Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka for continuing the fight to bring our troops home from this illegal and ill-conceived occupation of Iraq. And I hope and pray that the Senate Republicans get the message or get out!
Al-Qaida is reacting to the success of allies
In spite of the "pull the troops out" voting record of Hawaii's congressional delegation, you have to ask just how is the war in Iraq being lost?
The latest articles in the Marine Base newspapers talk of volleyball games and culinary exchanges between Hawaii-based Marines and Iraqis, not the great battles like in Vietnam. Not to say there isn't danger, but it's al-Qaida's strategy to stage big terror killings in Iraq just like it did here on 9/11 to scare us into doing their bidding.
In fact, one of the upshots of the surge is the turning of former insurgent groups like the 1920 Revolution Brigade against al-Qaida. Guys who were shooting at our troops in years past are working with the U.S. and Iraqi armies to drive out al-Qaida terrorists.
What's taking place in Iraq is the type of effort needed to form a modern, united nation state that operates under the rule of law. This is a hoped for and encouraging development, thanks to the amazing dedication and sacrifice of the U.S. armed forces and our Iraq allies.
Every little bit helps 'chip away' at debt
Apparently it's too early to know for sure, but University of Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier feels his department may finish in the black for a second consecutive year ("UH budget too close to call"
Star-Bulletin, July 11).
Wouldn't that be special?
If the surplus for 2006-07 is the same as the $7,483 profit the athletic department turned in 2005-06, and if those proceeds go toward "chipping away" the $2.3 million deficit that has accumulated under Frazier, and if the athletic department is able to keep "chipping away" at the same pace for the next 300 years, UH athletics will be out of the red sometime early in the 24th century.
David T. Johnson