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Hawaii: High Recidivism for Mainland Prisoners

Hawaii prisoners housed out of state are virtually guaranteed to return to prison after release, according to a Jan. 21, 2003, story by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Currently, 90 percent of prisoners housed on the mainland return to prison, while those housed in state have a recidivism rate of between 47 percent and 57 percent.

State Rep. Glenn Wakai (D-Moanalua Valley) found the disparity in recidivism rates startling. "What's the public good of us sending them to the mainland to just house them there so they can come back X number of years later and go and prey on us again?" he said.

State Rep. Colleen Meyer (R-Laie) believes the numbers imply that prisoners housed on the mainland are not being rehabilitated. Public safety officials testified in Jan. 20, 2003 that an overwhelming 85 percent of Hawaii state prisoners need substance abuse treatment. Apparently, this treatment is either non-existent or ineffective for those housed out of state.

Severe prison overcrowding has forced Hawaii to contract with out of state private prisons. Currently, more than one-fourth of Hawaii's 5,093 prisoners are housed on the mainland, at a cost of $25 million to state taxpayers.

Not noted in the article is the fact that all the mainland prisons used by Hawaii are run by either Wackenhut or Corrections Corporation of America. Private prisons tend not to have programs geared toward rehabilitation because these programs cut into potential profitsyet no one seems to be making this connection.

Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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