Ethnic Hawaiians Disproportionately Incarcerated? Not!

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BY KENNETH R. CONKLIN, PH.D. — A 2010 report by OHA, and a followup a few days ago, allege that ethnic Hawaiians are arrested, convicted, and jailed more often, and sentenced more severely, than other ethnic groups. And by golly, something ought to be done about it! So OHA is gearing up to demand that the 2013 legislature pass laws for special coddling of accused or convicted criminals who have any large or small degree of Hawaiian native ancestry.

But that socially poisonous allegation of racially disparate treatment by the criminal justice system is false. The evidence offered to support it is statistically absurd, for two main reasons.


(1) According to Census 2010 ethnic Hawaiians have a median age of 26, while the rest of Hawaii’s people have a median age of 42. Of course young people do more drugs and commit more crimes, with greater violence, than middle-aged people. So they get arrested more often and sentenced to longer terms. And there’s nothing unfair about that! It’s all about the sins of youth, not about race. That age disparity of 16 years is a major reason why comparing statistics for ethnic Hawaiians as a whole vs. other races makes it look like ethnic Hawaiians are either bad people or are being discriminated against.

The right way to do statistical analysis of alleged disparate outcomes is to compare people of different races but who are within the same age group; for example, the 5-year age cohorts reported by the Census Bureau (15-19, 20-24, etc.).

Why does this 16 year age disparity exist? That’s a complex issue, but clearly is not the fault of the criminal justice system. Apparently ethnic Hawaiians at young ages like to make babies, and their culture and families are happy to see them do it. Part of the reason might be the urging by Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa and other racial activists that Hawaiians should go forth and multiply regardless of age or marital status, in hopes of someday becoming a majority to gain the upper hand politically. See “Native Hawaiian Population To Double by 2050 — Lilikala Says Use Population Bomb to Blow Up Current Non-Native Majority” at

(2) Who counts as ethnic Hawaiian? Anyone with a drop of Hawaiian blood, even if most of his ancestry is from Asia or Europe. If crimes were allocated to the race that has the largest fraction of a criminal’s genealogy, ethnic Hawaiians would probably turn out to be about as naughty or nice as everyone else. Indeed the most scientifically correct way to analyze the data would be to find out for each criminal what fraction of his genealogy is attributable to each race, and then “award” the corresponding fraction of a tally mark for a crime to each of those races. Someone whose ancestry is only 1/8 Hawaiian would “win” for ethnic Hawaiians only 1/8 of the “credit” for a crime. Hawaiians would turn out to be not so scary as OHA has been claiming.

But the tycoons of the Hawaiian grievance industry refuse to analyze crime statistics (or income or disease statistics) by comparing people in the same age group to each other, or by allocating fractional tally marks to each part of a person’s racial heritage. Because if they gathered the data and analyzed it in such obviously correct ways, ethnic Hawaiians would probably be discovered to behave about the same as everyone else and to be treated appropriately by the criminal justice system.

Why do OHA, the Kamehameha Schools research division, and others in the Hawaiian grievance industry so vigorously engage in racial profiling to create extremely negative stereotyping of “Native Hawaiians”? If there were no racial disparity, there would be no right to grumble. No sympathy from a generous public. No special treatment. No reparations. No racial grievance industry with large, highly paid bureaucracies building political power. No racial separatist phony Indian tribe.

The motives for creating reports like the ones on the judiciary in 2010 and 2012 are described in detail in “The Hawaiian Grievance Industry — Panhandling for Race-Based Handouts and Political Power” at

The 16-year age gap and blood quantum issue regarding why it is false to say ethnic Hawaiians are disproportionately incarcerated and mistreated are explained in great detail, along with extensive analysis of the 2010 report, in “Abusive disparate treatment of ethnic Hawaiians by the judiciary and the criminal justice system? Rebuttal to a report by the Hawaiian grievance industry released September 28, 2010” at

To see additional detailed analysis of the points raised in this new essay regarding the new 2012 OHA report, go to

During its 2013 session our legislature will be pressured to pass bills to provide special treatment for ethnic Hawaiians in the criminal justice system based on the bogus “disparate treatment” reports of 2010 and 2012. Auwe! Just say no.





  1. In addition to Dr. Conklin's astute response, I would like to ask a further question about the research. While the 2010 OHA study attempts to document the WHAT, does it use any reliable methods to determine the WHY? It is one thing to claim THAT a disproportionately high percentage of Hawaiians are incarcerated, but what is the statistical basis for the claims as to WHY they are incarcerated? The commission working off of the report has stated that there is a "bias" specifically against Hawaiians in the justice system and that "inter-generational trauma" from the loss of the Hawaiian Kingdom is a cause for the criminal activity of Hawaiians today. Is there any verifiable data that establishes a causal link between the incarceration rate and these suggested causes? I could not find this data to support a causal link in the report, It looks like the pre-suppositions of the commission were not subject to statistical testing.
    – Keli'i Akina,

  2. OHA seems to ignore the income issue too. All ethnic groups living here had to start from the bottom level. Asians to Polynesians -Samoans, now the Micronesians are going through the social pains. Remember the gang wars, ILLEGAL migrants childraising & international matters?
    The issue could be why are Hawaiians not moving up the social class .
    Visit Radio Shack, From time to time we would get haole trash (drug dealers and theives), who were really hard to deal with.
    I still don’t get how low income folks have fancy phones that are glued to their ears – and thumbs.And these are not just the “rich kids” I’m talking about.

    • Cholan, they are called "Obamaphones." If one is a certifiable minority, they are ENTITLED to an "Obamaphone."
      It's about redistribution, so that Carlos Slim can get richer.

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