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Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Rethinking prosecution: How San Francisco's Failure can be Imported to Honolulu
By News Release @ 5:58 PM :: 975 Views :: Law Enforcement

Three people

From left: Steve Alm, Chesa Boudin, Minda Yamaga

Rethinking prosecutions, justice topic of panel discussion

by UH News, November 2, 2021

In the age of mass incarceration, more focus is turning to prosecutorial reform. In the American legal system, district attorneys (DA) wield exceptional powers that can determine how and when to enforce laws. Their decisions address a range of issues from homelessness to human trafficking. As government agencies, DA offices can be difficult to manage and reform, but their role in public safety, police oversight and social inequality is undeniable.

In partnership with the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, the University of Hawaiʻi Better (Worse) Tomorrow Speaker Series will host a live, online conversation featuring San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm and federal public defender Minda Yamaga.

The event, “Rethinking Prosecution: Innovative Approaches to Safety, Crime, and Justice,” will be held on Thursday, November 18 at noon and is free and open to the public. (Submit questions and register)

Camille Nelson, dean of the William S. Richardson School of Law will serve as moderator.

“If Hawaiʻi—and the country as a whole—is to move away from a costly and corrosive overreliance on incarceration and toward an equitable and advanced system of justice, then it is critical to ensure best practices are being implemented in the offices of district attorneys,” noted Nelson. “We are fortunate to be hosting this forum with our own reform-minded prosecuting attorney, Steve Alm, and with one of the most well-known progressive prosecutors in the country, Chesa Boudin. This promises to be a vital and dynamic conversation.”

Event participants

Elected in 2019, Boudin worked previously as a public defender and has been profiled in The New Yorker and The Atlantic. He is the child of incarcerated parents.

Alm was elected as Honolulu’s prosecuting attorney in 2020, and is only the third person to hold the office since 1990. An alumnus of the UH Lab School, he previously served as U.S. Attorney for Hawaiʻi and as a circuit court judge.

Yamaga, a UH alumna, previously served as Hawaiʻi’s deputy public defender.

Series sponsors include the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, Kamehameha Schools and UH Mānoa. Co-sponsors include the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences, Scholars Strategy Network and the William S. Richardson School of Law.

For more information, contact or email btss@hawaii.edu.

This event is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

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