6 Sep 2022


Prison Reforms in Hawaii

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Academic level: Master’s

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Asylum or prison reforms are the endeavor to enhance inside conditions of prisons, implementing incarceration alternatives, or the provision of an effective penal system. The other objective is to restore individuals affected by crimes. Currently, some of the practices are based on ethical grounds and involve prison sanitation, unusual, and cruel punishment. In the modern world, there is the incorporation of house arrests through the use of assistive technology. Prison reforms have also incorporated legal counsel access in a significant way and conjugal visits. This paper discusses Hawaii and the efforts it has taken to implement prison reforms.

The Hawaiian state has set up a mental health court that specializes in deviating criminals from jail to treatment based on the community with proper supervision to handle the safety of the public. It also supports accused individuals suffering from mental illness in getting better. The program provides individualized treatment to participants suffering from substance abuse and offers psychosocial treatment (Hawaii State Judiciary, 2019). After an eligible defendant has been referred to the mental health court, he undergoes treatment with regular supervision by a probation officer. The defendant will also be appearing in front of the judge occasionally to assess his progress. After determining that the individual demonstrates values such as learning living working full participation in the community, then the individual is allowed to graduate.

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Prison reforms also have involved practices to reduce congestion in prison. Overpopulation within the penal system has its disadvantages, one of them being inaction (Sevigny, Pollack, & Reuter, 2013). Another reason is that the reformation of the convict will be very difficult and thus may affect public safety (Rothman, 2017). It is essential to note the state is considering to reduce the strike of first-time offenders. The other thing that is being implemented is the mental health court that has reduced congestion within the prison confinements. It has also been seen that new prisons are being built to accommodate the increasing rate of offenders.

Public safety includes nonviolent offenders such as those that drink and drive, causing fatal accidents. The state of Hawaii has implemented a driving while impaired (DWI) Court, which seeks to rehabilitate these kinds of offenders. Its main objective is to make sure participants sober through a court-regulated, comprehensive plan of treatment that gives support to these types of offenders. The state provides that an individual enters this program out of his own will and must enter a no-contest plea. The individual will be monitored, counseled, and will attend self-help meetings regularly. The participants also appear before the district court judge to be evaluated. If the individual complies successfully upon completion of the program within one year, he will graduate; if not, then he has to stay.

Another effort by the state of Hawaii to reform prisons is through the incorporation of art for girls in juvenile courts. The initial state of the jails only catered for boys, and it was recently noticed that girls express themselves better through art. In most cases, girls are victims of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, and it is this that drives them to commit crimes (Hawaii State Judiciary, 2019). This is a result of the depression that they go through exposing them to at-risk behaviors such as delinquencies. Initially, the state of Hawaii did not meet these needs because they did not have correction facilities that were specific to gender. Hawaii, therefore, has established such kind of facility that aims to decrease juvenile delinquency in females through promoting healthy lifestyle, behavior, and attitude (Simon, 2015).

There has also been the use of evidence-based prison programming as it has indicated decreased taxpayer expenditure and increased the rate of employment to offenders after their prison term ends. Mental health court has been found to reduce incidences of misconduct. It is essential to have prison reforms because it ensures that men and women released from jail have the necessary tools to survive in the community (Mosteller, 2018).


Hawaii State Judiciary. (2019). Judiciary | Girls Court. Retrieved from https://www.courts.state.hi.us/special_projects/girls_court

Hawaii State Judiciary. (2019). Judiciary | Mental Health Court. Retrieved from https://www.courts.state.hi.us/special_projects/mental_health_court_oahu

Mosteller, J. (2018, June 22). Why Prison Reform Matters in America. Retrieved from https://www.charleskochinstitute.org/issue-areas/criminal-justice-policing-reform/why-prison-reform-matters/

Rothman, D. J. (2017). Conscience and Convenience. doi:10.4324/9781315080581

Sevigny, E. L., Pollack, H. A., & Reuter, P. (2013). Can Drug Courts Help to Reduce Prison and Jail Populations?  The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 647 (1), 190-212. doi:10.1177/0002716213476258

Simon, J. (2015). Amnesty Now: Ending Prison Overcrowding through a Categorical Use of the Pardon Power. U. Miami L. Rev., 70, 444.

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