An open letter to Sen. Fukunaga, Rep. Garrett, Gov. Green.
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  2. Hawaii
  3. Letter

An Open Letter

To: Sen. Fukunaga, Rep. Garrett, Gov. Green

From: A constituent in Honolulu, HI

May 24

We need to address the way we treat those arrested by those detained and treated by police. We risk putting innocent people behind bars and having the rest of their lives ruined every day and since prison overcrowding is at an all-time high, we need reforms more than ever. The first thing we could do is ban police officers lying to suspects about the evidence they have in hand. Since suspects can be detained for days at a time and do not always have access to good representation, it's easy for police officers to get a false confession accidentally. Everyone, especially if the person has mental health, is suspectable to police coercion. It's easy for false memories through lengthy interrogations with false evidence to get an easy conviction. Some studies say that it can happen as quickly as 2 minutes. An excellent example of this is the Reykjavik Confessions. Police officers arrested 5 innocent people who were essentially brainwashed into believing that they killed 2 people despite no evidence linking any of them to crime. This was one of the first reported cases of False Memory Syndrome. This and other injustices is why most developed countries have banned their police from lying to their suspects. Another problem we must address is the use of Solitary Confinement. The practice should be barred from use, full stop. As stated above, the abuse of solitary confinement is one of the reasons that made the Reykjavik Confessions such a tragedy. Months upon months have left some of them permanently scarred by the experience. This has been consistent with studies and experiences with the punishment. Whether it be in prison or a holding cell, we have to protect those, especially if they have mental health problems, from being tortured. We can't just leave it up to either the police or the prison Warden. It's too convenient of a tool for them not to abuse it. Even if we believe they are beyond approach, we must keep them in check to protect those in their care. This brings us to the last point, cementing in our state's constitution that police officers must protect and serve their community. In Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, police don't have to protect or serve themselves. In that particular case, police officers failed to enforce a restraining order that led to the death of 3 children. It was an easily prevented tragedy if the officers of the state were held accountable to their oath. Since then, police distrust and abuse have only grown. And if we want our citizens to feel safe, we have to rebuild trust with the police. We need undeniable proof that they will protecting those in our community, not only from criminals but also from themselves. So, having officers' duties enshrined in our state's constitution will not only protect the police from bad actors but will protect the innocent from being mishandled. Overall if we care about justice we have to put the safety and well-being of everyone first and foremost.

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