ACLU Urges Hawaii Governor to Break Stalemate Over Brutal Conditions at Youth Correctional Facility

Affiliate: ACLU of Hawaii
June 14, 2004 12:00 am

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ACLU of Hawaii
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HONOLULU-The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii urged Governor Linda Lingle today to break a stalemate and finally address the brutal and unconstitutional treatment of children at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

“”We have been working in a good faith effort for ten months to bring about needed change and avoid a long legal battle,”” said ACLU of Hawaii Legal Director Lois K. Perrin. “”But we have been excluded from every opportunity to have our concerns addressed. We are hopeful that the governor can correct this course for the sake of the children placed in the state’s care.””

In August 2003, the ACLU of Hawaii provided a 34-page report to Governor Lingle detailing 47 deficiencies in the correctional facility that needed to be reformed, including excessive and abusive force used by guards against teen wards, unsanitary living conditions and severe overcrowding that in some cases resulted in three boys sharing an 8X10 cell with only one bed. Although government officials have confirmed all but two of the stated concerns, very little has been done to rectify the unduly punitive and unconstitutional living conditions since the report was submitted, the ACLU said.

“”The children and families involved in the ACLU’s August 2003 report have been waiting almost a year now for the state’s response, and many more children incarcerated at the correctional facility continue to suffer from the acknowledged but uncorrected deficiencies in conditions and practices,”” Perrin said.

The Office of Youth Services, which oversees the correctional facility, has repeatedly refused to respond to ACLU calls and requests for information about its concerns in a cooperative effort to avoid litigation. The agency recently cancelled a conditions assessment of the correctional facility, leaving the state without a confirmed plan or even a commitment for reform.

Cooperating attorneys in this matter are Paul Alston and Mei-Fei Kuo of Alston, Hunt, Floyd & Ing.

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