Leaders at odds over corrections system issues - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Leaders at odds over corrections system issues

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The state says 95 percent of inmates will eventually be released but it's not because of space issues.

"Please sit down and be quiet right now. I'm asking you to be civil ma'am," said Chuck Prentiss, Kailua Neighborhood Board Chair, when members of the audience started clamoring for answers.

People have little patience for crime in their community. That was evident by some at a forum in Kailua. That meeting highlighted the disagreements about the corrections system.

"Don't come to these community meetings and give them this BS and don't answer the questions," said Keith Kaneshiro, Honolulu Prosecutor.

Kaneshiro is mad because he feels criminals aren't spending enough time locked up. Right now there are 200 men on Oahu doing work furlough instead of behind bars. Michael Lee Carter was one of them. He had been in prison since the mid 90's for rape and kidnapping. Last August he went on work furlough. A month later he was accused of raping another woman.

"They're trying to rush guys out of prison. That's why you have 200 guys on work furlough. Plus I guarantee you those 200 guys don't have work," said Kaneshiro.

"It's bad when it happens, but it is an anomaly," said Ted Sakai, Department of Public Safety Director.

The state says Carter was a year away from maxing out of his prison term so they wanted to ease him back into society while they could still have supervision.

"Overcrowding is an issue but we don't release people simply because of overcrowding. Public safety is always first and foremost for us," said Sakai.

"Oh I definitely disagree. That's why people are being released," said Kaneshiro.

The state wants to bring home its inmates in Arizona and build another prison in Hawaii, but Kaneshiro says it won't get done.

"How long more should we go on deceiving the public? Tell the public like it is, if you're not going to build tell them you're not going to build," said Kaneshiro.

"I talked with the Governor this morning and he is fully committed to moving forward, but we understand we have to work with the legislature and community," said Sakai. "We can't just declare we're going to build a prison somewhere and do it. But we are committed."

It's a debate that won't get released without some hard time.

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