Maui News

Confirmation Hearing Today for Director of Public Safety

April 4, 2019, 6:50 AM HST
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Department of Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda tours the Maui Community Correctional Facility following a riot in May. MCCC Recovery 3.19.19. PC: Department of Public Safety.

By Wendy Osher

The state’s director of the Department of Public Safety, Nolan Espinda, is up for a confirmation hearing today for a second term. The hearing comes on the heels of a riot at the Maui Community Correctional Center last month.

The ACLU Hawaiʻi took no position on the nomination, but submitted comments proposing a set of questions it recommends should be posed to any nominee for the position.

The questions relate to critical areas where the department allegedly “fails to uphold basic civil and human rights.” Questions solicit input on how to address overcrowded conditions as well as rape and sex assaults at the state’s facilities.

ACLU Policy Director Mandy Fernandes said: “With the nomination of a new Director of Public Safety, lawmakers and the public have a chance to choose a candidate who will not just uphold civil rights, but will help Hawai‘i re-envision our corrections philosophy and practice. We all want a safe community, and around the country, state after state is recognizing that mass incarceration and horrific jail and prison conditions are making us less safe. Current policies fail the accused, fail the convicted, fail the community. Together with law enforcement and the courts, the corrections department has a huge amount of power to bring change. Let’s use it.”

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The state senate committee on public safety, intergovernmental and military affairs will meet at 1:15 p.m. today at the State Capitol.  They are considering a new term for Espinda, that if approved would expire on Dec. 5, 2022.

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