First 31 Hawaii inmates will be released next week, as part of the largest nationwide release of federal inmates in history.
Legislators created the Re-entry Commission in 2009 and revamped it in 2012. But, to date, it has never had a quorum at a meeting.
Of the state program’s 800-plus “graduates,” only 20 have returned to prison after committing a new sex crime, a recidivism rate of slightly more than 2 percent.
Prison-reform advocates and tough-on-crime proponents glean different conclusions from the same numbers concerning well-publicized prisoners who walk away — and the few who commit new crimes.
In 2012, the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative set lofty goals to achieve higher efficiency and a lower inmate population. There’s been practically no progress so far.
Jonathan Namauleg was strangled. He was serving a three-year sentence for arson. His cellmate was serving a murder sentence for a prior strangulation.
Convicted of third-degree arson, Jonathan Namauleg had a murderer for a roommate.
The governor acknowledges that sending prisoners to the mainland is not ideal but says there is little choice for now because the prison in Halawa needs upgrading and the jail in Kalihi needs to be replaced.