Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility
The Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF) works closely with the courts and the Office of Youth Services to ensure that any commitment to the HYCF is a “last resort” – after all community-based services have been exhausted. Identification of community-based programs as alternatives to incarceration is ongoing.
To better coordinate the State’s abilities and efforts to provide services, the HYCF continues building partnerships with various public agencies, including the DHS, DOE, DOH, Family Court, county agencies including law enforcement agencies, and non-profit agencies. A multi-disciplinary team, comprised of the DOE, DOH, HYCF, Contract Service Providers, youth and parents, is involved in development of the at-risk youths’ Individual Service Plan and reintegration back into their community. HYCF continues to provide an intensive Aftercare/Reentry Program through the Parole Section for youth transitioning out of the HYCF and returning to their families/communities.
Major HYCF administration initiatives include:
- Developing facility policies, procedures and practices that are Juvenile Justice appropriate;
- Providing ongoing training for HYCF direct care staff, social workers, and other personnel on Juvenile Justice/Juvenile Corrections Best Practices.
- Equipping staff with skills and knowledge needed to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment for the youth in the state’s care and custody;
- Strengthening communication between the Judiciary and State Agencies (DOH, DOE, DHS) and OYS/HYCF to ensure the delivery of appropriate services for youth in a seamless and collaborative manner; and
- Enhancing and expanding facility-based programs and services to better prepare youth for reintegration into the community. For Quality Assurance, HYCF continues to monitor facility progress through a Performance-based Standards program to assess and evaluate facility progress and the conditions of confinement.
New HYCF programs continue to be developed and implemented to expand rehabilitative opportunities available to our youth, including much needed transitional services for youth exiting the facility. These programs assist with population control and help reduce recidivism by better preparing youth for adult life in the community. In collaboration with University of Hawaii professor, Thao Le, Ph.D., a pilot project to teach mindfulness techniques to youth was implemented with promising preliminary data results.
To enhance gender specific programming for incarcerated girls, HYCF continues collaborating with Project Kealahou to positively impact the girls at the facility. The project is funded through a federal SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) grant awarded to the DOH. Project Kealahou is two-fold. Advocates/counselors from the program work directly with the girls who have been the victims of trauma. Additionally, Youth Correctional Officers who work with the female population receive trauma-informed training to enhance their sensitivity and to broaden their skills and knowledge.
To remedy deficiencies, and to upgrade the quality of correctional programs and services, the HYCF continues to evaluate Hawaii operations against national standards, such as improved management, and a defense against lawsuits through documentation and the demonstration of a “good faith” effort to improve conditions of confinement. Continued evaluation also increased accountability, enhanced public credibility for administrative and line staff, created a safer and more humane environment for personnel and offenders, and established a measurable criteria for upgrading programs and personnel.
The expanded use of parole instead of incarceration has improved the success rate of youth transitions back into home communities. Parole also has helped the HYCF maintain an average daily population near maximum capacity.