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Governor Signs Bills Dealing With Criminal Justice System

June 20, 2012, 5:14 PM HST
* Updated June 20, 5:15 PM
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The state’s criminal justice system was the focus of two more bills signed into law today by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The two measures, House Bill 2515 and Senate Bill 2776, were based on recommendations by the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, the new laws will:

  • Add 15 new staff members for victim services in the Department of Public Safety, Crime Victim Compensation Commission and prosecuting attorneys’ offices.
  • Invest $1 million to enhance community-based treatment programs.
  • Reduce existing delays in risk assessment for individuals prior to trial.
  • Expand the state’s parole board from three to five members to increase efficiency in determining who is suitable for parole.
  • Increase the amount of restitution paid to victims from 10% to one-quarter of any deposits made to an inmate’s account.

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is a program involving 17 states designed to refine the criminal justice system. In conjunction with JRI, Hawaii established the 24-member Justice Reinvestment Working Group to study the state’s system and suggest improvements.

The group noted that despite declining crime rates, Hawaii saw significant growth in its prison population. A lack of prison cells has prompted the state to house roughly a third of its inmates in private mainland facilities.

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Abercrombie said the new laws are “the next step forward in our commitment to taking control of our criminal justice system, bringing back vital resources to Hawaii and strengthening communities for people to return to.”

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