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) released the statement below after voting to pass a bipartisan funding bill to keep the government open through September 2017:
Taylor Polson, Honolulu Star Advertiser
March 25--U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Tuesday called for the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level in a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Congressman Thomas Garrett (R-Virginia) introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.
"FBI reports have shown that in 2011 alone an individual in the United States was arrested for marijuana use, sale or possession every 42 seconds, mostly in poor and minority communities," said Gabbard.
Washington, DC—Continuing her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the House floor today urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana. If passed, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (H.R.1227) would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list—joining other industries such as alcohol and tobacco. Gabbard introduced the legislation with Rep. Tom Garrett (VA-05), an Army veteran and former prosecutor.
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the House floor today to recognize the 40th Anniversary of Women Helping Women on Maui:
“As we kick off Women’s History Month, I want to recognize Women Helping Women, celebrating 40 years of service to the people in my district on Maui County.