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Report: City and County Jail (Jane D. Hewitt)

Report to the Membership from the Local Agenda Committee

Re: City and County Jail

The League began its study of the Honolulu Jail in 1953. In 1954, the consensus reached on the jail called for "...a modern correctional institution providing adequate security, segregation, and rehabilitation." After much hard work by the League.. and the Citizens' Committee formed under the League's auspices, the new jail at Halawa was opened in 1962. Members of the League visited this new facility, and at their recommendation, the membership agreed to move the jail from a Current Agenda item to a Continuing Responsibility. Members of the League have again visited the jail - in September, 1966 - with the intent of deciding whether or not the jail item could be dropped altogether or whether further action was needed.

Before discussing in detail the three criteria set for the jail (security, segregation, and rehabilitation), we would first like to commend Capt. Roland Sagum, who was in charge of the jail at our recent visit. He is a man of compassion and has a deep interest in the welfare of the jail inmates. His capabilities are reflected in the impression we all gained of a well run correctional institution.

The jail is divided into men's and women's sections, and the following comments apply to the men' s section.

Security; Under the strict meaning of the word, Halawa Jail is certainly secure. Only one prisoner has escaped since the jail opened, and the flaw in the design of the jail which permitted his escape has been corrected. Under the broader meaning of the word (jail location, custodial security, cell construction and cell fixtures) we have no criticism.

Segregation: As noted above, the jail is strictly divided into male and female sections. The male prisoners are further segregated - witnesses and others not under sentence are separated from sentenced prisoners; there is separation by seriousness of offense; and sex perverts are separated from other prisoners. We have no criticism of the segregation policies in the men's section of the jail.

Rehabilitation: There are many ways in which the male prisoners may occupy their time. There are library facilities, a wood working shop, kitchen work, grounds maintenance, end recreation yards and equipment available to the inmates. While the jail staff cannot require the inmates to take advantage of these activities, they make every effort to encourage them to do so for the therapeutic value. There is a chapel with weekly religious services.

There is presently no opportunity for an inmate to further his education while in jail. Past efforts in this direction have not been successful, primarily due to the shortness of the average stay at Halawa Jail - one month.

The grave shortcoming at Halawa Jail is the lack of a social worker who can counsel and assist the inmates with personal and family problems. The League originally recommended a social worker for the jail, and Capt. Sagum has requested salary for a social worker in his yearly budget, but he has consistently been turned down. The item has been removed by the City Budget Office before the jail budget is passed along to the City Council for approval.

Further compounding the difficulties in getting educational and social service facilities for the jail is the fact the education and social work come under State supervision, making it difficult to get the personnel needed for a City and County operation.

Unfortunately, the situation in the women's section of the jail is not as satisfactory. The problems here begin with the fact that the women's section is small because there are few women prisoners. Thus it is impossible to segregate the sentenced prisoners from those awaiting trial. Greatly adding to this problem is the fact that the State has closed the women's section of Oahu Prison, and now uses Halawa Jail. Thus, when the League visited the jail last September, there were two convicted woman felons mixing freely with the three City & County inmates serving for misdemeanors. The recreation and rehabilitation facilities for these women are woefully limited. The women are fed in the kitchen on the men's side, so there is no opportunity for them to work in the kitchen. They cannot be out of doors except in their own small recreation area The women have a sewing machine and get instruction from a matron from Oahu Prison, but materials for them to use are always in short supply.

There is one additional problem in the women's section. Only one matron is assigned to each shift, because there are few female prisoners - five when we were there. This may be an economy, but certainly involves a risk for her.

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We would like to recommend the following action to the League:

  1. Request the City to include in its budget the salary for a social worker to be attached to the Jail; further, that the City itself proceed to hire a qualified person for the position.
  2. Request the City to work with the Department of Education in re-examining the possibilities for providing educational opportunities for the inmates.
  3. Request the City to re-examine the operation of the women's section of Halawa Jail. Can more recreational and rehabilitation facilities be provided the women inmates? A new State facility for female prisoners is many years in the future. Is it in the best interest of the City and County prisoners to continue to house the State's female felons?

Jane D. Hewitt, Chairman
Local Agenda Committee
League of Women Voters of Honolulu

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