Jail On Earth
Hawaii has more prisoners than its jails can house. There are two possible solutions: have fewer prisoners, or ship some off island. Since the former would require a radical move like, oh, decriminalizing drugs, we’re stuck with the latter. Currently, we send our excess inmates to three prisons in Eloy, Arizona owned by the private Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
The deal with CCA, you may recall, was the subject of a scathing report issued in January by State Auditor Marion Higa. Citing a lack of both accountability and transparency, Higa called the arrangement “fundamentally flawed.” Add lawsuits filed against CCA by Hawaii inmates claiming to have been threatened, beaten and sexually assaulted by guards, and it’s clear something has to change.
Fortunately, the state’s contract with Eloy and CCA expires June 30. Gov. Abercrombie has said he ultimately wants to end the outsourcing entirely, but until the infrastructure is in place that’s obviously a pipe dream. So, earlier this month, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) put out a request for proposals seeking “a qualified provider to confine and supervise an indeterminate number of male Hawaii inmates.”
Of course, that would be the same DPS that got into bed with CCA, so prison-reform advocates—and prisoners—hoping for a better outcome shouldn’t hold their breath.
Zoo Got To Be Kidding
Manuel Mollinedo can’t catch a break. In 1996, while he was director of the Los Angeles Zoo, a female Asian elephant trampled a zookeeper, and five years later a Komodo dragon bit the foot of journalist Phil Bronstein (who was married at the time to actress Sharon Stone).
Mollinedo then headed north to the San Francisco Zoo. In 2007, on his watch, a Siberian tiger that had previously attacked a zookeeper escaped and mauled three people, killing one of them. It was later determined that the fence around the animal’s enclosure was nearly four feet shorter than the recommended height.
And so Mollinedo moved to Hawaii to take the reins at the Honolulu Zoo, which this week was refused re-accreditation by the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums because of “concerns regarding the filling of vacant personnel positions [and] repairs and upgrades of animal exhibits.”
So much for third time’s a charm.
Willie Weird Things
If you think it’s time for the government to go easy on Willie Nelson, you’re not alone. Hudspeth County, Texas prosecutor C.R. “Kit” Bramblett agrees.
Bramblett was tasked with recommending punishment for the iconic troubadour and Maui resident, who was busted for pot possession when border patrol agents searched his tour bus late last year. Bramblett’s proposal? A $100 fine and community service—in the form of a courtroom performance of the song “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.”
“You can bet your ass I’m not going to be mean to Willie Nelson,” Bramblett told CNN.
But Judge Becky Dean-Walker quickly quashed the idea. “My court is not a jester court,” she said. “I understand that people are star stuck—I’m not one of them.”
Instead, it sounds like Willie will simply have to pay the fine if he pleads guilty, and won’t even have to show up to do so. Too bad—that’s one concert that would’ve been woth a trip to the Mainland.