East Hawaii News

Injunction Sought to Stop Kulani Prison Reopening

June 27, 2014, 6:16 PM HST
* Updated June 30, 10:43 AM
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A hearing has been set for 2 p.m. Monday in Hilo Circuit Court on a request for an injunction to block Tuesday’s planned reopening of the Kulani Correctional Facility.

The organization Ohana Ho`opakele filed a lawsuit against the Hawaii Department of Public Safety for failing to include a pu`uhonua, a Hawaiian cultural alternative to standard prisons, in plans to reopen the minimum-security prison on the slopes of Mauna Loa.

The lawsuit was filed in 3rd Circuit Court in August 2013. In December, three unnamed Hawaii inmates imprisoned at Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, were added to the lawsuit as plaintiffs.

Last Friday, Circuit Judge Glen Hara denied the group’s request for a summary judgment in their favor, prompting it to seek the injunction.

Ohana Ho`opakele President Palikapu Dedman on Thursday issued a statement describing Kulani’s reopening as “inviting the Prison Industrial Complex to Hawaii to profit off the misery of Hawaiians and further fleece the taxpayer.”

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“The prison system is not working,” Dedman said, noting the high percentage of native Hawaiians incarcerated by the state.

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“The state has to stop oppressing Hawaiians,” he said. “Together let’s do something positive. A model pu’uhonua, not a prison, at Kulani would be a step toward justice.”

Dedman said if Hara refuses to issue an injunction, Ohana Ho`opakele plans to hold a protest outside Kulani’s main gate Tuesday morning in response to the prison’s opening ceremony.

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