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Calls for a Pu‘uhonua for inmates at Kulani Correctional Facility hearing

Photography and text by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

A Big Island public hearing for the proposed plan to reopen Kulani Correctional Facility in 2014 was held at the Aupuni Center in Hilo Tuesday night (Jan 22). Ted Sakai, Director of the State Department of Public Safety, along with Clifford Murakami, of Pacific Architects, provided an overview of what the state has planned and took questions and comments from the public regarding the re-opening.

There were about 100 people gathered for the hearing and although nobody directly spoke out against the facility reopening there was concern as to the programs offered for inmates.

The group Ohana Ho‘opakele submitted testimony to create a Pu‘uhonua (a place of sanctuary, peace and safety) where all inmates can heal in a wellness center instead of a traditional prison setting. Several people cited the disproportional large percentage of Hawaiians incarcerated in Hawaii’s prison system and the need for an alternative rehabilitation method.

Other issues dealt with the possibility of continuing the livestock program at the facility, the need for substance abuse programs and using the inmates to train specialized detection dogs that the state could sell.

The facility had been leased to the Hawaii National Guard for the Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

There will be another public hearing at 5 p.m. Thursday (Jan 31) at the Keaau Community Center.

Kulani Public

Draft Environmenta Assessment on reopening Kualani Correctional Facility

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