ACLU Statement Says Governor's Attacks Are Baseless
October 19, 2004
Honolulu The ACLU today countered Governor Lingle's remarks about its work on improving youth facility conditions and challenged the Governor to heed her own advice.
"We were initially encouraged when Governor Lingle, over a year ago, said she was committed to improve the youth facility. Sadly, many of the changes remain largely cosmetic. Scratch beneath the surface and most of the major problems affecting the daily lives of youth have still not been systematically corrected such as overcrowding, lack of staffing and the inefficient use of existing community programs. We have given the State ample time to address problems the State itself has admitted exist, " said executive director Vanessa Chong.
Chong charged that the numerous attempts by the ACLU to work for change at the facility continue to be rebuffed. "We have always made ourselves available to work together to improve prison conditions. It is the reason for our involvement with the Hawai'i Juvenile Justice Project, along with 40-plus other community organizations."
"We have offered to postpone any litigation to give the State time to address the systemic problems. All of our attempts to get written confirmation of what the State has done to improve the facility have been futile. We have been consistently pro-active and persistent. Rather than cooperating with the ACLU and community groups, this administration has thrown up barriers every step of the way."
The ACLU was also critical of Lingle's attack of so-called outsiders working on local issues. "It is unfortunate that this administration has resorted to making misguided personal attacks rather than fixing conditions at the youth facility. Furthermore, the Governor's polarizing accusation of the ACLU and its staff as "outsiders" shows her disregard for the contributions of countless individuals who have moved here. The Governor's use of labels has no place in Hawai'i, " said Chong.
President Patrick Taomae said, "the Board of the local ACLU is very proud of the achievements of all of its staff. Moreover, we are aware of the good work that Lois Perrin has done as our legal director and fully support her efforts on this issue. We know that she will continue to fulfill the ACLU mission of protecting the civil liberties of all individuals, especially on behalf of the most vulnerable in our community."
The mission of the ACLU is to defend the civil liberties contained in the state and federal constitutions through litigation, legislative and public education programs statewide.
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO INVESTIGATE YOUTH CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
Hawai'i Juvenile Justice Project Started to Address Youth Facility Overcrowding
Hawai’i Juvenile Justice Project - Public Forum to Address Youth Facility Overcrowding