Measures address gender equity in education and the criminal justice system
Honolulu, Hawai‘i – Several critical bills focusing on gender equity in education and the criminal justice system supported by the Hawai‘i Women's Legislative Caucus (WLC) this session were signed into law by Governor David Y. Ige and are now state law.
“Our WLC is proud to support these measures to improve the lives of women and girls in Hawai‘i,” said co-convener Senator Rosalyn H. Baker. “Especially on the 50th anniversary of the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (Title IX), we want to continue the legacy of Congresswoman Mink to ensure that educational pathways are open to everyone.”
WLC-supported bills signed by the Governor include:
HB1775 - Requires annual reporting by the University of Hawai‘i, Department of Education, and the State Public Charter School Commission to the Legislature on the number and types of Title IX cases and employee training on Title IX and related policies. Includes $350,000 in funding for equity training for DOE schools and public charter schools.
SB2641 - Appropriates $200,000 for residential programs that allow minor children to remain with their mothers while participating in the program, to reduce the risk of trauma and multigenerational incarceration, including community‑based furlough programs, residential drug treatment programs, therapeutic community programs, and mental health programs.
SB2637 - Requires a community-based work furlough program for incarcerated women in the State and includes an appropriation of $1 million to Department of Public Safety for a community-based work furlough program.
HB2312 – Establishes a Women’s Corrections Implementation Commission in the Judiciary, includes a $10,000 appropriation.
HB2421 – Creates a three-year pilot program for a Women’s Court in the First Circuit. Appropriates $695,236 to the Judiciary for implementation and positions.
“The Women's Prison Project worked closely with the Women's Legislative Caucus this past session on several bills to help incarcerated women get the programs and resources they need and to develop pathways to divert non-violent, low-risk women from prison to rehabilitation programs,” added Linda Rich, member of the Women's Prison Project. “We are happy to be here today to see these bills become law and ultimately make positive change in our justice system.”
“Today we celebrate the Governor's signing of SB2637, which mandates that there be a community-based work furlough for women in our state and provides an appropriation,” said Noriko Namiki, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA O‘ahu. “We appreciate the work done by the Women's Legislative Caucus on this bill and in support of women's community-based work furlough over the years and look forward to working together with the Department of Public Safety to best utilize these funds.”
“The three-year pilot program for a Women's Court will hopefully prevent more women being incarcerated, as well as help them to break the cycle of re-entering the criminal justice system,” said Chief Judge R. Mark Browning, First Circuit Court. “The majority of women entering the criminal justice system in Hawai‘i are for non-violent crimes and research shows that women become justice-involved via different pathways than men, often due to mental health issues, substance abuse disorders, trauma and poverty. We need to address these issues at the outset.”
Hawai‘i Women's Legislative Caucus is a bipartisan coalition of women legislators from the Senate and House of Representatives to advocate for bills benefiting women and girls in our state. The Women's Legislative Caucus currently includes 17 women Representatives in the House and 10 women Senators.