A bipartisan probe of Hawaii’s flawed juvenile justice system was announced this week by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, and state lawmakers Sen. President Donna Mercado Kim and Rep. Mele Carroll, reports the Honolulu Advertiser. A new inter-branch working group will analyze the juvenile justice system and develop data-driven policy recommendations for the legislature.
Abercrombie said, “It costs a tremendous amount of money to put juvenile offenders into state custody. We need to take a hard look at our data, find better outcomes, and identify more cost-effective ways to handle our juvenile offenders.” Each commitment placement costs taxpayers more than $190,000 per year, per youth. Despite this substantial cost, most juvenile offenders who leave the state's correctional facilities reoffend and return within three years. Carroll said, “It is clear we are not getting an adequate public safety return on our juvenile justice investment.” The working group will get assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts' Public Safety Performance Project. Pew and its partners have provided similar assistance to more than two dozen states, including Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont.