Call to Action by Community Alliance on Prisons (CAP)
Background: Governor Lingle ordered the closure of Kulani Prison and its conversion to a Youth Challenge facility, a school run by the military. The State of Hawai’i Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) meeting will be on
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2009
LAND BOARD CONFERENCE ROOM 132
1151 PUNCHBOWL STREET
HONOLULU, HAWAII 96813
The BLNR is being asked to approve a Right-of-entry permit for the Army Corps of Engineers to investigate whether there are unexploded munitions hazards in the area, which is a former military training area. While the clean up of munitions is a good thing, the question that arises is why the urgency now? What are the undisclosed future plans for the site?
Native Hawaiian prison reform activists have been calling for creation of Hawaiian cultural based centers for healing and rehabilitation of substance abuse offenders for many years. They have requested that the Kulani prison site be converted into such a facility for their use. But the state chose to militarize the facility.
There is talk that the state’s long term plans are to turn the site into a military warfare training facility. We need to stop this military land grab! Convert Kulani into a pu’uhonua (place of refuge and healing).
Here’s the message from CAP coordinator Kat Brady:
CALLING ALL SOCIAL JUSTICE AND ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES!
As you know, the Gov has closed Kulani Correctional Facility – one of the most successful minimum security prisons in Hawai`i with the leading sex offender treatment program (SOTP). Nationally, statistics suggest that 11% of individuals who were in the SOTP while incarcerated committed another sex crime within two years of release. In Hawai`i the recidivism rate is LESS THAN 2% since 1988 (21 years) for an individual who was in the SOTP while incarcerated.
On Thursday, the BLNR will be addressing a permit application from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for a right-of-entry to do an environmental investigation.
Why is the USACE concerned now when the facility has been populated for 63 years and they never looked?
The purported MOU with Youth Challenge is not even signed yet – what’s up with that?
Is Youth Challenge a smoke screen to expand military training? There are plenty rumors around saying that this is so.
The forest around Kulani (that inmates maintained and cared for on several projects) is being considered as a Natural Area Reserve requiring an enhanced level of protection
Are we going to stand by while a valuable PUBLIC asset is handed off?
Shouldn’t we have input on the future plans for Kulani?
PLEASE TELL THE BOARD THAT NO DECISION SHOULD BE MADE UNTIL FULL DISCLOSURE IS MADE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF KULANI AND THE PROTECTION OF THE SURROUNDING PRISTINE RAINFOREST….
PLEASE SPEAK UP OR WE WILL LOSE THIS FOREVER…..
Kat Brady, Coordinator
COMMUNITY ALLIANCE ON PRISONS
76 North King Street, Suite 203
Honolulu, HI 96817
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Here is the testimony from CAP:
COMMUNITY ALLIANCE ON PRISONS
76 North King Street, Honolulu, HI 96817
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TESTIMONY BEFORE THE BOARD OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES
ITEM D-1: RIGHT-OF-ENTRY PERMIT TO U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
ON LANDS ENCUMBERED BY EXECUTIVE ORDERS 1225, 1588, AND 3092
KULANI CORRECTIONAL FACILITY TMK: 2-4-008:009
Aloha Chair Thielen and Members of the BLNR,
My name is Kat Brady and I am the Coordinator of Community Alliance on Prisons, a community initiative working to improve conditions of confinement for our incarcerated individuals, improve the quality of justice in Hawai`i, and enhance public safety by promoting smart justice policies.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is applying for a right-of-entry permit to do a remedial investigation/feasibility study under the Defense Environmental Response Program and the Military Munitions Response Program.
Community Alliance on Prisons is offering comments on this application today because on its face, this application appears to be innocuous. However, to those of us who have been in the trenches working on prison and environmental issues, it is the cause of great concern.
Kulani was encumbered to the Department of Public Safety (PSD) by Executive Orders No. 1224, 1588, and 3092. It has operated since 1946, first as a work camp for 120 inmates and then as a Correctional Facility for 160 minimum security inmates.
The footprint of the facility consists of 20 acres. It is surrounded by pristine rainforest with choke endangered species. There have been discussions about making this amazing forest a NARS area, calling for a higher level of protection.
Community Alliance on Prisons wonders why the USACE wants to conduct an investigation now when there have been incarcerated individuals and staff on the grounds for 63 years. Why the urgency?
Is it because of the Governor’s announcement that the state will turn this much needed minimum security facility over to the state DOD’s Youth Challenge program? That would be interesting since we have been advised that there is no agreement in place as yet.
Could the USACE be conducting an investigation to see if Kulani could be used for a long-term warfare training site with the Youth Challenge program being just a smoke screen to soften the blow?
This application opens the door to many questions that must be asked by you, the trustees for these fragile and precious resources.
- What is the long-term plan for Kulani?
- What signed agreements for the future use of Kulani are in place as of today?
- Has the community been invited to offer their comments on the future plans for Kulani? If not, why not?
- What is the state’s liability if USACE finds contamination?
- What are the plans for forest protection and restoration?
- Who from the state will be monitoring the work at Kulani?
- Will there be a report of the investigation available for public comment and scrutiny?
Community Alliance on Prisons urges the Board of Land and Natural Resources to probe deeper and find out the true reason that Kulani Correctional Facility is being abandoned by this administration when they testify that they need minimum security beds.
Something is very wrong. Please, on behalf of the citizens of Hawai`i, don’t make any decision on this or any other application until you and the public know what is proposed for the future of Kulani.
This half-baked plan has been a disaster for the county of Hawai`i and is a very serious blow to public safety and Hawai`i’s correctional system.
To quote a famous Japanese proverb:
Vision without action is a daydream
Action without vision is a nightmare
Please think seven generations down your family line and consider the impact of your decision regarding Kulani. Do you really have enough information to make a reasoned and informed decision that is in the public interest?
Mahalo for this opportunity to share our concerns.