UUHonolulu Social Justice Council and Congregation are active in exploring the critical issues related to incarceration in Hawaii and beyond, supporting discussion and action to promote kindness and justice.
In 2017, the SJC voted to become a founding member of the Hawai`i Justice Coalition. Since that time, UUHonolulu council members and congregants have been active in establishing the group, attending and testifying at hearings and town halls, developing the HJC website and establishing the Facebook page. See the first HJC public service announcement (PSA) here:
What can you do to join in the transformation of our criminal justice system:
- Visit the Hawaii Justice Coalition website.
- Join HJC as an individual member, in addition to our church institutional membership
- Read* and sign the petition on that “Take Action” page
- Like the Hawaii Justice Coalition Facebook page.
- Join in workshops, town halls, legislative visits, letter writing and other activites, see announcements on this website, our newsletter, and our calendar.
In January 2018, our church hosted the HJC workshop (description here) presenting issues regarding the proposed $643 million jail and draft Environmental Impact Report. Together the over 80 attending worked to write and submit questions.
In 2017, our Gallery on the Pali hosted an art show by women incarcerated at the WCCC. A warm and joyous evening included the art show, dinner, and dancing and presentations by the women.
Soon our church will host a second workshop for the larger community, featuring the documentary film “Out of State” by native Hawaiian filmmaker, Ciara Macy. The event will provide updates on the criminal justice issues and a panel discussion on next steps. Watch our weekly newsletter and calendar for the date. A synopsis of the film follows:
Shipped thousands of miles away from the tropical islands of Hawaii to a private prison in the Arizona desert, two native Hawaiians discover their indigenous traditions from a fellow inmate serving a life sentence. It’s from this unlikely setting that David and Hale finish their terms and return to Hawaii, hoping for a fresh start. Eager to prove to themselves and to their families that this experience has changed them forever, David and Hale struggle with the hurdles of life as formerly incarcerated men, asking the question: can you really go home again?
Civil Beat local news service is an excellent resource to learn and follow these issues. “Inmates Facing Inhumane Conditions” is an important article on the current situation. You will also find their articles on the OCCC (Oahu Community Corrections Center) relocation proposals and discussions.
Department of Public Safety- Hawaii Corrections Services This is the official website for governmental services in corrections.
Interfaith Alliance Hawaii Open Table monthly panels have focused on prison and education issues and more, and are managed by two of our church members, See UUHonolulu members Thomas and Cynthia Lynch.
First Life After Prison First L.A.P. Matthew Taufetee leads a group and housing services for prisoners reentering society. Matthew is currently seeking donations for transportation for residents. His video on his own experience is here.
Total Life Recovery Program at Womens’ Community Correctional Center is a faith-based, gender-specific program that addresses every area of a woman’s life mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
To share information or participate, email us at SJC@unitariansofhi.org
We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, in commitment to the safety of our communities, oppose plans to build a new jail on O‘ahu to incarcerate 1,200 or more of our neighbors, acquaintances, family members and friends, and the native people of Hawai’i. We acknowledge that O‘ahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) is severely overcrowded. However, criminal justice reform policies that reduce overcrowding is the solution, not building more jails. We recognize that jails are not prisons. OCCC is a jail. Jails house people awaiting trial, sentenced to one year or less for low-level infractions, and incarcerated persons nearing the end of their long sentences and preparing for work release. Building a new jail will not return the men incarcerated in Arizona’s private prison home.
The State projects spending a minimum of $525 MILLION on jail construction. It spends $152 a day currently to incarcerate an individual, or almost $25,000,000 per year to jail individuals statewide. This money would better serve our community if invested in Criminal Justice Reform policies that have proven cost-effective in reducing the incarcerated population and stopping the revolving door to the criminal justice system. We support reducing the incarcerated population through decriminalizing minor offenses, sentencing reform, increased pre-arrest and pretrial diversion, eliminating cash bail, and revision of parole and probation requirements to reduce high recidivism rates. We also support expanding community-based mental health, medical, and substance abuse treatment services, educational and job training opportunities, restorative justice programs, and housing for the houseless.