Hundreds of Hawaii inmates may have served more time behind bars than they needed because of conflicting state policies and practices on when prison sentences are to run concurrently or consecutively, reports the Honolulu Star Advertiser. The state legislature is considering two bills that would change a sentencing law for the second time in three years in an attempt to clarify how sentences are to be calculated when judges do not specify whether an inmate facing more than one prison term should serve the time back-to-back.
Starting in 2005, as their release dates approached, hundreds of inmates were told they would have to serve additional time — sometimes years more — because their sentences were previously miscalculated. The state said it was complying with a 1986 law that had been ignored prior to that, which mandated consecutive sentencing unless judges specified otherwise. “Simply put, this bill could save the state of Hawaii millions of dollars annually without compromising public safety,” the American Civil Liberties Union, Hawaii chapter, said.