ACLU Hawai‘i Testifies on Director of Public Safety Nomination

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The ACLU of Hawai‘i (ACLU) submitted comments on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, to the committee considering the nomination of Nolan Espinda to a second term running the Hawai‘i Department of Public Safety (PSD). A non partisan, nonprofit organization, the ACLU takes no position on the Espinda nomination, but proposes a set of eight questions it recommends should be posed to any nominee for this position. These questions relate to critical areas where PSD currently fails to uphold basic civil and human rights, and will help clarify the next PSD Director’s vision for corrections and public safety for the people of Hawai‘i.

Nolan Espinda. Courtesy photo.

“With the nomination of a new Director of Public Safety, lawmakers and the public have a chance to choose a candidate who will not just uphold civil rights, but will help Hawai‘i re-envision our corrections philosophy and practice,” said Policy Director Mandy Fernandes. “We all want a safe community, and around the country, state after state is recognizing that mass incarceration and horrific jail and prison conditions are making us less safe. Current policies fail the accused, fail the convicted, fail the community. Together with law enforcement and the courts, the corrections department has a huge amount of power to bring change. Let’s use it.”

The testimony calls out these eight areas. How will Hawai‘i’s next PSD Director:

  1. End unconstitutional conditions and overcrowding at correctional facilities?
  2. Shift from a model of incarceration and punishment to a model of rehabilitation and reentry?
  3. Make pretrial detention the exception, not the norm?
  4. Stop holding people past their release date?
  5. Use the minimum force necessary to control people being held, with rigorous and transparent review when deadly force is used?
  6. Reduce drug testing errors that may land people back in a cell?
  7. Protect transgender persons held in custody?
  8. Eliminate rape and sex assault in its facilities?


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