No 'max out' allowed for prisoners; bill wants more parole instead

State shifting more money toward treatment programs

Published  5:28 PM HST Feb 06, 2013
HONOLULU -

"He grabbed my arm, threw it back at me, opened the door and jumped out," said Karisa Leong.

Her husband jumped to his death on the H-1 freeway less than a week ago.

Incarcerated for 10 years, she said he wasn't prepared for life outside of prison.

"It was constant rejection and lack of support," said Leong.

"It is really something that follows you for the rest of your life," said Kat Brady, who is an inmate advocate and worked with state agencies to make the Justice Reinvestment Initiative a reality.

But for the first time, the state's entire prison system is now being reworked.

"The correctional system needs to do more correcting," she said.

For one, the state is changing the way it assesses inmates.

The Hawaii Paroling Authority told KITV it used to be just a "yes or no" Q & A session.

It said it's now going be a more involved interview, so staff can get a better feel as to whether an inmate is ready to be back into society.

The latest this legislative session is a new bill to stop inmates from "maxing out" meaning completing their entire sentence in prison. But why?

"They are more likely to reoffend. They simply walk out the door cold, without any kind of support any kind of supervision," said Ted Sakai, who has been nominated to serve as the Department of Public Safety's Chair -- for a second time.

"That is frightening and that is something the community should be up in arms about," said Brady.

The state has also already brought back hundreds of Hawaii inmates housed in mainland prisons, and plans to bring back a lot more, with a cost-savings $30,000 each.

The goal is use those savings to fund sorely needed treatment programs for inmates paroled, instead of just let out, for their sake and for ours.

"Almost everybody is going to come out some day and they are going to be on the bus next to your daughter. How do you feel about that? I want somebody who wants to be a contributing member of society next to my loved one," said Brady. 

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