HONOLULU (KHON2) — About 50% of Hawaii’s incarcerated women are repeat offenders, according to the Women’s Prison Project.

They said part of the solution is stable, permanent housing and an option is now available in Honolulu.

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Hawaii’s only female governor said women going through Hawaii’s justice system is an issue she wishes she would have done more about in office. Linda Lingle said affordable housing projects for women who just got out of prison were all transitional until Mohala Mai.

“Six months for most of them and when that’s finished, you’re again out on your own,” Lingle said. “This is permanent supportive, housing. So, it’s like an apartment building, except that we have a fulltime social worker on site to help the women.”

Lingle is now with the Women’s Prison Project and said inmates often revert to survival crimes if they are released without support.

“Which means just to feed themselves, they end up stealing again or they go back with people who were involved with drugs, or to many of them end up homeless because there is no support system. Mohala Mai can change that for women and for their children,” Lingle said.

There is room for 24 residents who pay no more than 30% of their monthly income. One parolee who lives in separate transition housing said Mohala Mai will be huge for those who think they have nowhere to turn.

“So now, having this place as a support team and a support network, you don’t have to revert to that. But it all starts with you, you know, you got to make the choice to want to change,” Simone Kamaunu said.

“You make the choice, but now there’s a backing to that choice.”

Simone Kamaunu, Parolee/Windward Community College student

“There are about 220 women in the women’s prison,” Lingle said, “we want to cut that in half in the next three years.”
KHON2 pointed out that a 50% reduction is a mighty goal.
“Yes it is, and it’s doable,” Lingle said.

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Women who have left prison after serving their sentences, women on parole or probation, women who completed a transitional housing program after leaving prison and women diverted from prison by the Women’s Court are all eligible to live in Mohala Mai.