After reforming its criminal justice system in 2012, Hawaii passed juvenile justice legislation in 2014 based on the comprehensive recommendations of the Hawaii Juvenile Justice Working Group. House Bill 2490, which Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law, will reduce secure confinement, strengthen community supervision, and focus resources on practices proved to reduce recidivism. These policies are projected to cut the number of youth held in the state’s secure facility by 60 percent and save an estimated $11 million over the next five years, allowing for reinvestment in proven interventions, including $1.26 million for mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Before its 2012 criminal justice reforms, Hawaii was sending about one-third of its adult inmates to mainland facilities at a cost of more than $60 million a year. After a bipartisan, interbranch working group analyzed the state's sentencing and corrections policies, the Legislature considered data-driven policy options. On June 20, 2012, Gov. Abercrombie signed a comprehensive set of reforms that improve pretrial risk assessment processes; focus on high-risk offenders; and provide for swift, certain, and appropriate responses to supervision violations. These reforms are expected to save the state approximately $130 million over five years and allow it to bring inmates housed in mainland prisons back to Hawaii facilities.