Advocating for Criminal Justice Reform
Our criminal justice system is broken and unsustainable, both for our government and society. Our prison population is rising—30 years ago in Hawaiʻi, our prison population was under 1,000. Last year, it was over 5,500, including 1,300 sent to Arizona because of prison overcrowding. According to the Hawaiʻi Department of Public Safety (PSD), Hawaiʻi spends about $140 per prison inmate per day, which includes program services, food, health care, and administrative costs. That comes out to $51,100 per year per prisoner locked up in Hawaiʻi, more than a year’s salary for many people in Hawaiʻi. In Hawaiʻi and across the country, spending on our criminal justice system continues to increase, yet over 40% of people released from prison return within 3 years.
The Need for Sentencing Reform
Tulsi is working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address the many problems that plague our criminal justice system. She is a cosponsor of legislation like the SAFE Justice Act (H.R.2944) and the Sentencing Reform Act (H.R.3713). The SAFE Justice Act takes proven community generated solutions from states throughout the country, like the Hawaiʻi Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) Program, and applies them effectively at the national level. The Sentencing Reform Act reduces certain mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders and allows judges greater discretion in determining appropriate sentences.
Improving the Juvenile Justice System
Young people in the juvenile justice system are at a crossroads in their lives that can lead them down dramatically different paths–either positive or negative. We must do our best to dedicate the resources and provide them with opportunities that will set them on a path toward success, and away from a life of crime. Hawaiʻi’s juvenile justice system is implementing the Ho'opono Mamo Civil Citation Initiative, which is an “innovative collaboration to divert youth away from juvenile court involvement and connect them to a community-based system of support.” Stakeholders throughout the state came together to develop this initiative, which helps first-time youth offenders access supportive services and receive a civil citation rather than an arrest record. The assessment center staff works with the youth and his or her family to address challenges the youth is facing. By using a collaborative approach, this program helps to address the root problem of youth delinquency.
More on Advocating for Criminal Justice Reform
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) joined U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and U.S. Representatives Ann Wagner (MO-02) and Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) in reintroducing the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act today. The bipartisan legislation would create a process for victims of human trafficking to request relief from non-violent federal crimes committed as a direct result of human trafficking.
Honolulu, HI—Addressing the Academy of Architecture for Justice Conference today, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) discussed the unprecedented bipartisan momentum behind criminal justice reform. The Congresswoman spoke about wide-ranging support in Congress for measures like the Recidivism Risk Reduction Act (H.R.759), the Sentencing Reform Act (H.R.3713), and the SAFE Justice Reinvestment Act (H.R.2944), and discussed her continued work to push these measures forward before the year’s end.
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) joined U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Ann Wagner (MO-02) and David Jolly (FL-13) in introducing bipartisan legislation today, the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2016, to clear criminal records of victims of human trafficking. This bill would apply to non-violent crimes committed by individuals as a direct result of human trafficking.
Washington, DC—In response to a pervasive lack of legal assistance for domestic violence survivors, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Joe Kennedy (MA-04), Don Young (AK-AL), and Susan Brooks (IN-05) today introduced the bipartisan, bicameral POWER Act, which would help connect victims with legal representation. Studies have shown that survivors who can afford or access a lawyer successfully obtain restraining orders in 83% of cases, compared to 32% without a lawyer.
Today in Wahiawā, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) attended the 25th Infantry Division Change of Command Ceremony at Schofield Barracks to honor outgoing Major General Charles A. Flynn and to welcome incoming Major General Christopher G. Cavoli. The Congresswoman presented a Congressional certificate to Major General Flynn, recognizing his honorable service over the past 2 years as Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division.