Honolulu, Hawai‘i: The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i (“ACLU of Hawai‘i”) has released responses from a public poll surveying residents of Hawai‘i on topics relating to criminal legal reform in the state, such as drug addiction, alternatives to incarceration, COVID-19 releases, the prosecuting attorney and voting. The aim of the survey is to paint a clearer picture of the public’s understanding of Hawaii’s current criminal legal system and their opinion as to whether it is making our communities safer. The ultimate goal is to help inform the work of lawmakers, candidates and advocates. 

Below are some highlights of the survey: 

  • 76% of people polled agree there is value in greater transparency from the Prosecutor’s Office.
  • 67% of people are more likely to vote for a prosecuting attorney candidate who commits to actively working to reduce unequal treatment by race in the criminal justice system.
  • 71% agree that it would help communities by rehabilitating offenders and saving taxpayer dollars that can be reinvested into preventing crime.
  • The results show a clear preference by the general public in support of drug treatment and rehabilitation as opposed to tougher penalties and longer prison sentences. 

 Conducted in April 2020 by Anthology Marketing Group, the quantitative study featured a total of 482 completed surveys collected statewide.  

ACLU of Hawai‘i Campaign Director Monica Espitia said: “As we move forward in our Campaign for Smart Justice Hawai‘i — which aims to combat racial disparities in the criminal legal system and mass incarceration in the islands — we decided surveying the residents of Hawai‘i was a necessary step in understanding how people feel about Hawaii’s current criminal legal system and if it is actually making our communities safer. We’re encouraged by the results and hope that releasing them provides some clarity to current lawmakers and candidates who wish to serve the people of Hawai‘i.”