Kapilipono: A U.S. District of Hawai‘i Specialty Court Pilot Project
33 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2022
Date Written: March 28, 2022
The United States District Court for the District of Hawai‘i's (USDC-HI) Kapilipono pilot program considers applicants convicted of federal felonies are on bond pending sentencing. Each applicant must be approved by the specialty court team that is comprised of a member from the United States Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Federal Defender, and the Pretrial Services Office. The program began in October 2019 and its first group of five participants will graduate in January 2021. It is not a pretrial diversion program, but an opportunity for the participants to demonstrate post-conviction rehabilitation at the time of their sentencing which is a factor that may support a downward variance in a sentence. The program requires weekly participation: once a month with the specialty court, once a month in a cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) group, and twice a month meeting with pre-trial officers. The CBT sessions apply public health learning principles including restorative justice and solution-focused approaches. Participants learn skills that can help them desist from crime. After twelve months, each participant has a reentry planning circle (Walker & Kobsyashi 2020). The participant meets with loved ones to make amends for any harm their crime and risk of incarceration may have caused, and to make a plan for desisting from crime. Reentry circles have been extensively researched and have been shown to promote healing for the loved ones of a justice involved individual (Walker, Tarutani & McKibben, 2013; Walker & De Reu, in press), decrease recidivism (Walker & Davidson, 2018); and are cost effective (Richardson & Walker, working paper). USDC-HI has piloted reentry circles since 2015 (Walker & Kobayashi, 2020). The reentry circle process can be used as an alternative to the current prison system.
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