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  Posted on: Thursday, June 21, 2012
Measures to Improve Hawaii Justice System Become Law
Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed into law a comprehensive policy package contained in two measures - House Bill 2515 and Senate Bill 2776 - designed to lower recidivism, increase efficiency in the criminal justice system, and ensure accountability of people convicted of crimes. The bills are based on recommendations of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), a data-driven approach Hawaii is using to reduce corrections spending and generate savings to reinvest in strategies that increase public safety. "From my first day on the job as governor, I said we will bring our inmates housed in mainland facilities back home and keep our taxpayer dollars in the state," Abercrombie said. "With the enactment of these bills, we are taking the next step forward in our commitment to taking control of our criminal justice system, bringing back vital resources to Hawaii and strengthening communities for people to return to." The bill signing comes approximately one year after the establishment of the 24-member Justice Reinvestment Working Group, an inter-branch and bipartisan group of state officials and stakeholders. CSG Justice Center staff identified inefficiencies that contributed to a growing jail and prison population. Despite declining crime rates between FY 2000 and 2010, the state experienced significant growth in both the prison population and corrections expenditures. Due to a lack of space in prisons, approximately one-third of Hawaii's prisoners are housed in costly mainland facilities. Tsutsui, who introduced SB 2776, said, "The JRI bills were a culmination of months of work and the support of many government officials and stake holders. Adding resources and staff to our pre-trial detainee processing, the Paroling Authority, and probation will certainly help in our efforts to improve our outcomes and results."
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