[Pnews] Native Hawaiians are filling private prisons in Arizona

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 3 12:59:11 EDT 2018


  Native Hawaiians are filling private prisons in Arizona

By Brooke Fryer -  3 Oct 2018

The over-representation of incarcerated Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) 
in Arizona prisons was one issue raised during the recent nationwide 
strike in the United States.

Some demands of the 19-day strike 
which ended on September 9, included: ‘an immediate end to the racial 
overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown 
humans’; and ‘immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and 
prison policies’.

Campaigners, such as Eric Tong, a PhD student at the University of 
Hawaii at Mānoa, were hoping to raise awareness of the practice of 
transferring of male Indigenous inmates from Hawaii to private prison 
facilities in Arizona.

Mr Tong highlighted in a Twitter thread 
<https://twitter.com/_iwakeli_i/status/1031962770860699648> how Kānaka 
Maoli inmates are being transferred to Saguaro Correctional Centre, 
which is run by detention centre and prison contractor CoreCivic.

CoreCivic has been contracted by the Department of Public Safety in 
Hawaii since 1998 to house some of its inmates in Arizona's Saguaro 
Correctional Centre. The centre was built specifically to house Hawaiian 

The company also has a contract to house Hawaiian inmates at its Red 
Rock Correctional Centre in the state.

    In solidarity with the #PrisonStrike
    today, here's a thread about the nearly 1,500 pa‘ahao kāne (the
    majority of Hawai‘i's incarcerated males) locked up at the Saguaro
    Correctional Center, a for-profit private prison in Arizona.
    pic.twitter.com/YIrT9Qu0od <https://t.co/YIrT9Qu0od>

    — E. TONG (@_iwakeli_i) August 21, 2018

In August 2018, 1453 inmates were being held at the Saguaro Correctional 
Centre, with 551 self-identifying as Kānaka Maoli.

“Over the years Hawaii's inmate population has increased but prison 
space has not,” a Hawaii Department of Public Safety spokesperson told 
NITV News.

“If we did not have the ability to send inmates to Saguaro Correctional 
Centre, our largest in-state facility would be grossly overcrowded.

“They can only return when sufficient bed space becomes available in 

      *Kānaka Maoli**men over-represented*

Carrie Ann Shirota, a lawyer with Hawaii Justice Coalition and Soros 
Justice Fellow, told NITV News Kānaka Maoli males are being sent to 
Arizona at rates much higher than other inmates.

She said they are also more likely be serving longer sentences.

“The majority of men who are sent to these private prisons [in Arizona] 
are Kānaka Maoli. They are already disproportionately over-incarcerated 
and over-represented… but they are also disproportionately sent from 
their ancestral homeland,” said Ms Shirota.

Twenty-one per cent of the state-wide population are Kānaka Maoli, 
according to2015 Pew Research data 

However Indigenous Hawaiians make up 39 per cent of the prison 
population in Hawaii, and 41 per cent of the out-of-state prison 
population, as reported by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs 
<https://19of32x2yl33s8o4xza0gf14-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/native-hawaiians-criminal-justice-system.pdf> in 

Ms Shirota says Hawaii's signing of a new three-year contract 
with CoreCivic last year means inmates will continue to be disconnected 
from their 'ohana'.

“To physically move a person from their ancestral land… the idea that 
Hawaiians come from the land, they will return to the land… just moving 
people is injury to the person’s cultural identity,” Ms Ann Shirota said.

She believes the way Kānaka Maoli men are allowed to practice culture is 
very limited in Arizona.

“It is very rare they are even allowed to gather… It’s not just like you 
can meet anytime you want,” she said.

However the department told NITV News the inmates are allowed to 
practice culture at any time.

“All inmates are allowed to participate in Native Hawaiian cultural 
programs at all of our facilities, including the contracted prison in 
Arizona, if they so choose,” the department said.

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