On Friday, June 20, 2014 at 9 AM Ohana Ho’opakele’s Motion for Summary Judgment (MSJ) against the State of Hawaii is set for hearing before Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn S. Hara. The (MSJ) is to prevent the State of Hawaii from reopening the Kulani Correctional Facility (KCF). The MSJ charges the state with failure to properly address issues required by State environmental law, including Act 117 passed in 2012 which directed the State Department of Public Safety (DPS) to work with Ohana Ho’opakele and others to establish a Pu’uhonua at the former KCF unless a better site can be found.
Ohana Ho’opakele will be represented before the court by its attorney who also represents two pa’ahao (incarcerated) plaintiffs as well. Ohana Ho’opakele Plaintiffs, Ralph Palikapu Dedman, Ronald Fujiyoshi, Samuel Kaleleiki, Luella Nohea Crutcher, and James Albertini, have asked the court for an order to require the appearances of the incarcerated plaintiffs, Cedric Ah Sing and Van Kahumoku, in the proceedings.
Ohana Ho’opakele President, Palikapu Dedman, says that DPS director, Ted Sakai, “has not taken seriously the requirements of the law in dealing with environmental impacts, especially to native Hawaiians who disproportionately make up more than 60% of Hawaii’s prison population. This is a violation of environmental law and Hawaiian civil rights. Furthermore, Sakai has not proceeded in good faith to follow Act 117 signed into law by Governor Abercrombie designating Kulani to be a Pu’uhonua, not a prison. The State should not be opposed to Kulani being converted to a Pu’uhonua instead of a prison. It would be a feather in the Governor’s hat if he brought prisoners back to a Pu’uhonua rather than a prison. Supporting a Pu’uhonua at Kulani would get the Governor votes. The disproportionate number of Hawaiians in prisons should be a key Governor’s campaign issue. You can’t keep oppressing Hawaiians and expect the Hawaiian vote.”
Dedman says, “Ohana Ho’opakele is asking the court to restrain the DPS from reopening KCF as a prison and require the State to complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that addresses Hawaiian concerns and Act 117 calling for a Pu’uhonua at Kulani. A Pu’uhonua is an answer to deal with the disproportionate number of native Hawaiians in the prison system in Hawai`i.”
Dedman says, “There are nearly 6000 people locked up under the DPS. More than 3000 are Hawaiians. Ohana Ho’opakele, with the backing of Act 117, is only asking that Kulani, instead of being reopened as a prison, become a model Pu’uhonua for 200 carefully screened pa’ahao with one year left on their sentence. Pu’uhonua is based on healing. Prisons are based on punishment and are proven failures and a waste of taxpayer’s money. In 2014 the DPS budget is $249 million or $41,000 per prisoner. The number of people incarcerated keeps increasing. Hawaii incarceration rates increased 709% between 1980 and 2008. And now the State is inviting the Private Prison Industrial Complex to Hawaii to profit off the misery of Hawaiians and further fleece the taxpayer.”
Dedman says “The State of Hawaii has an obligation under the Hawaii State Constitution (Article 12, Section 7) to stand up for justice for Native Hawaiians. A Pu’uhonua at Kulani, not a prison, is a step toward justice that needs to be taken now. That’s what this lawsuit is all about.”
Ohana Ho’opakele officers and supporters will be outside the entrance to the Hilo Court House at the Kanawai Mamalahoe sculpture “Law of the Splintered Paddle” and available for comment at 8 AM Friday, June 20, 2014.