In the works since Kulani prison closed, SB 3016 is a long shot
Video by David Corrigan, voice of Stephanie Salazar
KULANI, Hawaii: An effort to transform the former correctional facility at Kulani into a pu’uhonua went before a state legislative committee on Tuesday.
Its a long shot, but if passed, Senate Bill 3016 would require the Department of Public Safety to plan for a model wellness center that employs native Hawaiian cultural practices on state land and to submit a report to the legislature prior to the 2013 legislative session. The bill specifically mentions Kulani, the former correctional facility at the remote terminus of Stainback Highway that was abruptly closed in 2009 and is now being utilized by the Hawaii National Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe Academy.
The bill was introduced by Senator Brickwood Galuteria, the chair of the Senate Committee of Hawaiian Affairs.
If it sounds like the measure comes out of left field, it does not. Shortly after Kulani was closed, this group of concerned native Hawaiians, under the banner Ohana Ho’opakele, held a press conference at the state court building in Hilo to promote their idea of creating the pu’uhonua at the site.
In its testimony submitted on the measure, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which has domain over Kulani, says it enjoys its current relationship with the Youth ChalleNGe Academy. However, the department says that if the Youth ChalleNGE Academy elected to move its operation elsewhere… like the Keaukaha Military Reservation, as has been speculated… than DLNR would prefer to develop the facilities at Kulani.
DLNR says it would like to create a “world class environmental, educational, and outdoor recreation center with guest accommodations for overnight or longer stays.”
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs also offerred testimony on the bill, sidestepping the issue somewhat and stating that since the closing of Kulani prison in 2009 came so suddenly, the action needs to be expalined in a public forum before further resources can be committed to the facility. OHA also made referance to its 2010 report, “The Disparate treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System”
Kat Brady, the Corrdinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, wrote in strong support of the Puuhonua concept, and in particular the efforts of the Ohana Ho’opakele organization.
The bill – and Ohana Ho’opakele – also recieved lots of written support from the public.