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Hawaii Governor Finally Appoints Coordinator for State DOC Oversight Commission

by Douglas Ankney

It took him three years to do it, but Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) finally appointed a director for the state Correctional Systems Oversight Commission (CSOC). On April 4, 2022, former New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) Monitor Christin Johnson assumed the role created by the Hawaii legislature in 2019.

With all five members, CSOC can now begin to fulfill its legislatively ordered purpose, moving Hawaii’s prisons and jails toward a “rehabilitative and therapeutic model” of incarceration. The group’s other four members have been meeting monthly to hear reports on the state’s carceral system and have made annual reports to the legislature. But without an oversight coordinator, CSOC couldn’t perform its other functions — including investigating complaints.

Fortunately, Johnson, 30, touts an impressive resume. In her work as a monitor in New York City from 2017 to 2020, she enforced compliance with consent decrees, minimum jail standards, and DOC policies, a job that involved visiting the Brooklyn Detention Center three times each week.

She also spent three years as an analyst in the office of the Michigan Legislative Corrections Ombudsman, investigating complaints against that state’s DOC and pressing for changes in programming and treatment in Michigan’s female juvenile unit. Johnson was also the lead oversight specialist in the Grand Rapids Office of Oversight and Public Accountability.

Her annual salary is set at $154,812, and her term expires on November 30, 2023. The position was left unfulfilled by a hiring freeze Ige imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other CSOC members include two retired state judges and former Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Ted Sakai.

In a controversial decision in December 2021, CSOC urged DPS to delay replacing the Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC), the state’s largest jail, with a new facility. Though critics say OCCC fails to provide sufficient programming and services to prisoners, CSOC wants first to implement initiatives to reduce its population — such as eliminating cash bail — and then build a new, smaller facility to accommodate a reduced number of prisoners. 

Source: Honolulu Civil Beat

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