Open letter to Hawaii Lawmakers
BETH AND DUANE ‘DOG’ CHAPMAN – As you head to the floor to vote on SB 2776 tomorrow, we wanted to take this opportunity to quickly summarize why we are opposed to this bill, in a last attempt for your reconsideration.
We would like to preface this by praising the Governor, Legislature, Judiciary, and Public Safety for taking the initiative to bring our Hawaii inmates home to serve their time. We know it has been a difficult time, especially for their loved ones. We also agree with the Governor that something must be done about the overcrowding of our prisons.
That said, however, we want to reiterate the key negative points of the bill, and ask that you reconsider the revised bill with the new language that was proposed last week. This will alleviate prison overcrowding while keeping public safety a priority.
- Pre-Trial is a threat to public safety. Releasing thousands of prisoners cannot be taken lightly, and the current process for early release is inadequate.
- According to studies in Texas, Michigan, California, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and, most recently, Pennsylvania (http://articles.philly.com/2012-04-12/news/31331637_1_pretrial-release-fugitives-court-system), Pre-Trial has failed. Defendants released on Pre-Trial are 35% more likely to fail to appear in court, and are 50% more likely to reoffend.
- There is currently no accountability for Pre-Trial in Hawaii. There is no mandatory reporting system to gauge Pre-Trial’s success/failure. Who is released? How many people released on Pre-Trial have failed to show up in court, or have re-offended? What are the percentages? Of those who have failed to appear, were they captured and returned to prison? This information is unavailable to lawmakers or the general public who deserve to be informed.
- And, perhaps most importantly, what is the State doing to protect the many victims of those released on Pre-Trial? Are you informing them of these releases? Are they being provided with security? Can you guarantee their safety. The victims’ public safety, as well as the community’s, must be our top priority, before releasing anyone on Pre-Trial.
We are available should you have any questions or wish to set-up a meeting. Mahalo for your time.
Duane and Beth Chapman