Hawai'i Juvenile Justice Project Started to Address Youth Facility Overcrowding
January 5, 2004
Honolulu - A statewide network of community and government groups has formed the Hawai'i Juvenile Justice Project to address the problem of overcrowding at the Hawai'i Youth Correctional Facility. They are holding an informational meeting with with legislators tomorrow at 12:45 p.m. at the State Capitol room 329.
The Project formed in response to findings of overcrowding and other system-wide problems at the correctional facility this summer.
Project co-chair Vanessa Chong of the local ACLU said,"the mission of the Project is to bring together members from the government, private sector and community who have responsibility for youth facing incarceration. Together, we hope to increase statewide community support for the reduction of children who should not be detained at the HYCF."
The Project envisions a wide-ranging collaboration of private agencies and government officials and other community groups who have responsibility for or interest in youth incarceration. Government members include the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division, Kauai Prosecutor and the Office of Public Defender. Private groups include Hale Kipa, Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center, Kamehameha Schools and The Interfaith Alliance of Hawai'i. In addition, the Project will be outreaching to families of youth who are or have been incarcerated or in community placement.
Project co-chair Gail Gnazzo of Maui Youth and Family Services, Inc. said, "A good number of youth need not be detained at HYCF but would be better served by increased use of appropriate community placement. This would result in successfully reuniting more youth with their families and communities without jeopardizing public safety."
The Project has just received a $20,000 grant from the Hawai'i Community Foundationıs Mo' Bettah Together program to support its activities which will include legislative and community meetings statewide to raise awareness among politicians and the general public about the need for improvement to the juvenile justice system and how alternative programs for youth can benefit communities.
The local ACLU is preparing for litigation if conditions and practices at HYCF do not improve. They are being assisted by from the law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd and Ing and the Youth Law Center.
The Project welcomes community groups and individuals who would like to become involved. For more information, contact Vanessa Chong at 522-5900 or email@example.com.
List of Hawai'i Juvenile Justice Project Members (in formation):
Hawaii Juvenile Justice Project - Public Forum to Address Youth Facility Overcrowding
Report of Findings and Recommendations on the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility