Column examines issues of proposed new jail and prison

The state and the legislature are approaching decisions on the future of our prison system on two separate tracks.

Just how this process is unfolding was the subject of my Civil Beat column this week (“Ian Lind: Count On Hawaii To Ignore Logical Prison Report/In the rush to build a new prison, the Legislature is likely to shunt aside the work of a task force it created just last year“).

On the one hand, the legislature last year approved over $5 million for planning of a replacement for the aging Oahu Community Correctional Center, the state’s largest jail. And a new bill moving ahead this year calls for setting aside that plan, and instead beginning planning on a new and much larger prison. The current prison at Halawa would then be used as the new jail. That new plan got the quick endorsement of the head of the state’s prison system, despite the obvious problem that facilities are normally designed around their intended functions, and so the design of the current prison is much different than what is needed in a jail. And a new larger prison is likely to cost upwards of $1 BILLION, a figure likely to make even stalwart proponents gasp.

But last year’s legislature also created a task force charged with reviewing correctional “best practices” in use elsewhere that could be used to reduce Hawaii’s jail and prison population, allowing any new facilities to be downsized rather than enlarged. The task force, unfortunately, was not endowed with any budget, but has been meeting since last June without benefit of funding.

The task force has released an interim report, with its final report and recommendations due prior to the opening of the 2018 legislative session. It’s well worth reading.

Here’s my brief summary:

“To improve outcomes and bring costs under control, Hawaii must chart a new course and transition from a punitive to a rehabilitative correctional model,” the task force says in its preliminary report. The move is driven by “the fact that all but a few of the men and women who go to prison will one day return to the community.” Therefore, the task force says, the question for public policy is how to use their time in prison to shape their lives for the better and change the behavior that landed them in prison.

The report proposes moving away from viewing prison as punishment and instead treating incarcerated persons “with aloha” as a core value.

One key is education and training for prison and jail workers, and the task force recommends creation of a corrections academy for employees in both the executive and judicial branches.

It recommends setting targets for reducing the prison population through diversion programs, bail reform and efficiencies in processing pre-trial detainees, and “focused, evidenced-based rehabilitative programs for those in prison.”

“The question should not be how large a new jail needs to be, but how small the jail can be with successful diversion programs? Overbuilding would be one of the worst mistakes the State could make,” the report states.

In any case, a messy issue. Check my take in Civil Beat. Feel free to comment here.

Feline Friday: They’re inside cats now

Romeo welcomes you to another Feline Friday!

All the cats take turns lounging in the sun that shines in through the sliding doors to the deck of our still somewhat new house, but Romeo is the only one who still stares into the outside world for long periods, taking in as much as he can. I’m pretty sure he’s standing guard in case any wandering cats appear. I’ve seen a couple since we moved 18-months ago, but generally this does not seem to be cat territory.

Our cats used to have free access to the outside when we lived in Kaaawa. We had two cat doors, one on each end of the living room. Occasionally we would close them in due to bad weather or some other reason, but generally they could sit outside whenever they were in the mood.

Not so since we moved to our house in Kahala. With a somewhat busy street in front, we decided this was a good time to transition them back to a more boring but much safer lifestyle. They’ve adapted much better than we feared. I thought the enforced indoors might generate more pushback in the way of general sissyness, but that never happened. Of course, they are all senior citizens now and perhaps that accounts for the difference.

–> Click here to see all of today’s Friday Felines!

Mr. Romeo

Throwback Thursday image issue solved

Thanks to all of you who notified me that the photo in my Throwback Thursday post was not loading.

It took a while for me to solve that issue.

When I was first notified of the problem, I saw that my link to the picture was being modified, and it was the modified link that was not loading.

I had visions of being hacked, and having all visitors getting infected by some unknown bit of malware.

But the folks at the outside security service I use to defend my site,, explained the problem.

They pointed to Jetpack, a WordPress utility that provides several services, including one that is supposed to speed up loading of pictures. It was that part of Jetpack that wasn’t working and led to the error messages users were getting.

Their advice was simple. Disable that part of Jetpack. As soon as I disabled it, the problem disappeared. They provided a link to a partial explanation.

So that’s the bad news and good news. The problem caused lots of aggravation on Thursday, both to those of you trying to look at the photo and to me trying to figure it out. But it wasn’t an infection that will affect you.

Anyway, please go back and check out the photo! You’ll enjoy it.

Throwback Thursday: Bedroom secrets 1998

In January 1998, we rescued two kittens that had been thrown from a moving car along Kahekili Highway near Kaneohe. We immediately turned around and headed for our vet’s office, in what was then called the Temple Valley Shopping Center. The kittens, both females, had been well cared for before being dumped out of the car, and we quickly named them Kili (for the Kahekili Highway) and Wally (for a set of Wallace silverware that we had been going to bid on at an auction that morning in Honolulu. Instead of the silverware, we arrived back home in Kaaawa with something (somethings?) much more valuable.

These kittens quickly became big parts of our lives.

This photo was taken later that year. I’m guessing it was probably mid-summer. I managed a selfie while Ms. Wally was helping me during an afternoon nap. As you can see, we were color coordinated.

They grew up to be mighty fine cats and lived long lives. We were all very lucky.

Ms. Wally