[Pnews] Native Hawaiians are filling private prisons in Arizona
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
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.
— 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
“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
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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