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VIDEO: Hirono Questions BOP Director on Status of New Residential Reentry Center in Hawaii

~ Residential reentry centers provide transition assistance to incarcerated adults who are nearing release. Hawaii’s only residential reentry center closed in 2019 ~

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned Colette Peters, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), about the status of reopening a residential reentry facility in Hawaii. Hawaii’s only residential reentry center—Mahoney Hale—closed in 2019.

“Having grown accustomed to the stringent protocols in a prison, reentry can often become overwhelming as a previously incarcerated person adjusts back to society, and this definitely has a connection to recidivism,” said Senator Hirono during the hearing. “Since we’re very focused on lowering recidivism, I think the importance of allowing a person to go through the reentry program becomes ever more important.”

Residential reentry centers, also known as halfway houses, provide transition assistance to incarcerated adults who are nearing release. These reentry centers assist transitioning adults with employment, housing, substance abuse treatment, and medical and mental health care in the community. Since Hawaii no longer has a residential reentry center, Hawaii residents released from custody are assigned to an out-of-state facility or are forced to remain in prison, even though they qualify for “reentry.”

During her question line, Senator Hirono highlighted that numerous constituents have reached out to express their concern that Hawaii does not have a residential reentry center anywhere in the state, and raised the possibility of BOP partnering with the state to find a suitable facility.

“Perhaps we need to work with the state of Hawaii because the previous people who were running the facility had leased the space from the state,” continued Senator Hirono.

She also asked Director Peters why it has been a challenge for BOP to find a new reentry center operator. Director Peters responded that she will be traveling to Hawaii soon to meet with local law enforcement, community members, and other stakeholders to gain a better understanding of obstacles that have prevented a new residential reentry center from opening.

“Our hope is that we are going to be able to work together to solve this problem,” said Director Peters. “Your comments are spot on—having that local residential reentry center for the citizens of Hawaii is incredibly important.”

A link to download video of Senator Hirono’s full question line is available here.