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Lawsuit seeks puuhonua at Kulani


The nonprofit Ohana Hoopakele has announced three Hawaii County residents presently incarcerated at Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz. have joined a lawsuit to prevent the State’s planned reactivation of Kulani prison unless and until it has considered a Kulani puuhonua as an alternative.

According to Hoopakele President Palikapu Dedman, “Hawaii prisons already are filled disproportionately with native Hawaiians. Isn’t it time the State of Hawaii does something different and stops feeding this so called criminal justice system that thrives on the misery of the Hawaiian people.”

On Aug. 2, Hoopakele filed a complaint in Hilo Circuit Court requesting an injunction to prevent the proposed reactivation of Kulani prison unless and until such time the State prepares an environmental impact statement that specifically considers activating a Hawaiian puuhonua at Kulani camp and grounds.

Hoopakele filed the complaint after the State Office of Environmental Quality Control published on July 8, 2013 a “Final Environmental Assessment” and “Finding of No Significant Impact” prepared by the State Dept. of Accounting and General Services for the Dept. of Public Safety’s proposed Kulani prison reactivation project.

“In 2012, The State Legislature passed Act 117 that specifically directed the Dept. of Public Safety to work with Ohana Hoopakele in developing a plan for a puuhonua at Kulani camp and grounds,” Dedman said. “The Department has not worked with us to develop a plan, and instead has called Act 117 ‘an unfunded mandate.’”

Hoopakele considers the State’s plan to reactivate Kulani prison as the ground floor of a scheme envisioned by the State Department of Public Safety announced on November 14, 2013 to expand prisons and prison populations throughout the Hawaiian islands.

“We have all heard at one time or another that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” Dedman continued. “Either insanity has taken ahold, or anyone proposing more prisons and more prisoners in Hawaii simply does not desire or expect any different results.”

The three new plaintiffs are among a total of 113 Saguaro paahao that had contacted Ohana Hoopakele seeking to join the lawsuit.

Ohana’s Kahea was issued on March 21, 2011 and presently has received 1,856 endorsements from Hawaii residents and international supporters.

“On Nov. 7, 2013, on the steps of the Kuhio federal building in Honolulu, Hoopakale petitioned U.S. attorney General, Eric Holder to come to Hawaii to investigate the disproportionate number of native Hawaiians in Hawaii state jails and prisons. Today, we file this amended complaint in our Hilo District circuit court asking for justice from Judge Glen H. Hara. A State Prison is based on punishment. Hawaiian puuhonua is based on healing, and healing the individual, family, and community. Puuhonua can never be one program in a prison. It is the very alternative to prison,” said Dedman.

Excerpts from Hoopakele’s Amended Complaint, Civil No. 13-1-0474, to be filed Dec. 23, 2013

· DAGS environmental assessment did not consider a single alternative, including puuhonua, to the Dept. of Public Safety’s proposed reactivation of Kulani Prison, or any alternative uses for the Kulani campus and grounds, or any other sites to locate a prison in Hawaii County or elsewhere.

· DAGS did not consult the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Dept. of Hawaiian Homelands, Kulani campus and grounds neighbor Kamehameha Schools, or Ohana Hoopakele in preparation of the environmental assessment.

· The environmental assessment did not consider the issues of traditional Hawaiian usage and practice, preservation of specific endangered and threatened plant and animal species, use of federal funds, public recreational access, road-building, fencing, and multi-user conflict that were identified in DLNR’s environmental assessment of the Puu Makaala Natural Area Reserve Management Plan wherein Kulani camp and grounds is wholly located.

· In 2009 when Kulani Prison was closed it had capacity to house 160 paahao, and the Kulani prison reactivation plan proposes a capacity for 228 paahao. The environmental assessment did not consider any effects and impacts of, or alternatives to, incarcerating 37.5% more prisoners than the seven (7) dormitories were designed for and last most recently housed.

· The environmental assessment not consider that in June 2010, native Hawaiians comprised 41% state prison population, or that since the mid 1990’s, native Hawaiians have been receiving longer prison and probation sentences than persons of other races and ethnicities, and that with the exception of Native Americans, native Hawaiians have been the most likely to receive a sentence of imprisonment.

· The environmental assessment did not consider that, by county, excepting only Kalawao (Kalaupapa, Moloka`i), Hawaii County’s population is constituted by the greatest percentages of Native Hawaiians, Other Pacific Islanders, and Persons of Two of More Races, collectively 42% County population.

· The environmental assessment did not consider that Hawaii County’s population is experiencing the deepest money poverty, at 16% population, and lowest per capita and money incomes in the state of Hawaii.

· The environmental assessment did not consider that in each of FYS 2011 and 2012, Hawaii County jails were occupied by one point eight (1.8) men for every one (1) jail bed the facility was designed for.

· The environmental assessment did not consider that during FYS 2011 and 2012, while Hawaii County’s adult population comprised 13.5% state population, Third Circuit courts sentenced 25% felony convictions to prison, 21% Misdemeanor convictions, and 33% Violations convictions, and supervised 20% state adult probation caseload.

· The environmental assessment did not consider, and the Dept. of Public Safety has not developed a community benefit and enhancement package to mitigate the negative aspects of reactivating Kulani Prison in the District of South Hilo, County of Hawaii, State of Hawaii.

· The environmental assessment did not address any reactivation of the helipad facility and, therefore, may have failed to consider any of diverse direct, secondary, and cumulative effects and impacts of helicopter transportation to and from a reactivated Kulani Prison.

· The environmental assessment did not consider that the United States of America did not annex the Hawaiian Islands in 1898, and that there existed no “public lands” for the Republic of Hawaii to transfer to the USA and no “ceded lands” for the USA to transfer to the State of Hawaii.

· The environmental assessment did not consider that Tax Map Key (3)2-4-008:009 spans nearly 8,000 acres of Hawaiian Crown lands and that the State of Hawaii is obligated to use Crown lands to benefit native Hawaiian heirs to this land.

· Even if Kulani camp and grounds is contained within ceded lands, the environmental assessment does not address how the proposed disposition of ceded lands containing Kulani camp and grounds as a minimum security prison contributes to the betterment of the native Hawaiian people or any of the other federally prescribed uses of ceded lands.

· The environmental assessment did not consider that Act 117 states, in part the legislative finding that “a puuhonua, or wellness center, based on Hawaiian cultural practices will help the native Hawaiian community and community at large. . . . The cultural practices of pule, hooponopono, aloha aina, mahiai, laau lapaau, and aloha will help create a sensitive setting. A culturally based puuhonua will restore and maintain a better atmosphere and relationship between family, friends, community, and society.”

· The environmental assessment did not consider that Act 117 states, in part, the legislative finding that “the site formerly used as the Kulani correctional facility. . . . is a place of deep spirituality for the Hawaiian people, and pragmatically, it has the infrastructure and historical precedent for use in sustainable living.”

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