In June 2011, Governor Neil Abercrombie and House and Senate leaders in Hawaii requested technical assistance from the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center) to employ a data-driven justice reinvestment approach to develop a statewide policy framework that would reduce spending on corrections and reinvest savings in strategies that increase public safety.
Hawaii’s prison and jail populations grew 18 percent between FY2000 and FY2010. Due to a lack of space in its correctional facilities, Hawaii contracted with mainland facilities to house approximately one-third of its prisoners. Between FY2006 and FY2011, the state’s pretrial population increased partly due to delays in Hawaii’s pretrial decision-making process. In addition, victim services were not sufficient to ensure that individuals responsible for making restitution payments were being held accountable. From 2011 to 2012, the CSG Justice Center worked with Hawaii’s state leaders to develop data-driven policy options designed to reduce corrections spending and increase public safety. CSG Justice Center experts interviewed stakeholders across the criminal justice system and conducted a comprehensive analysis of Hawaii’s criminal justice data. Signed into law in 2012, Hawaii’s justice reinvestment legislation (SB 2776 and HB 2515):
- Requires timely risk assessments of pretrial defendants to lessen costly delays in the pretrial process
- Focuses probation and parole resources on individuals most likely to reoffend; and
- Increases the amount that people pay toward victim restitution and ensures institutions have the mechanisms in place to collect, track, and disperse these funds effectively.
These policies are estimated to reduce bed demand in correctional facilities by more than 1,000 beds, saving the state $130 million over 6 years. As of June 30, 2015, Hawaii’s prison population was 6,024, about 154 fewer people than the baseline projection. Between FY2012 and FY2015, monthly restitution collections have doubled, and Hawaii collected $1.56 million in restitution from incarcerated people and parolees. In FY2014, Hawaii funded up to 22 victim services positions. Between FY2013 and FY2015, the state reinvested $10.6 million to expand the availability of community-based treatment programs; hire additional corrections staff and parole officers to complete risk and needs assessments and support reentry efforts; and hire research and planning staff.
The CSG Justice Center provided technical assistance to Hawaii on the implementation of the justice reinvestment policies, including assisting PSD in developing a restitution collection database, facilitating implementation of a pretrial risk assessment tool, and helping the Hawaii Paroling Authority, PSD, and the Judiciary develop a training and recertification strategy for staff on using risk assessments.