Dog the Bounty Hunter, Wife Lobby Against Hawaii Justice Reform Initiative

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

Duane "Dog" Chapman and Beth Chapman and their massive blond manes were hard to miss Tuesday afternoon at the state Capitol.

The stars of A&E's "Dog the Bounty Hunter" reality series were not visiting Hawaii legislators to look for fugitives from justice.

Rather, the Chapmans were seeking to derail the Abercrombie administration's "Justice Reinvestment" initiative, a data-driven approach to reforming Hawaii's criminal justice system, which would include freeing up prison space.

The Chapmans testified against Senate Bill 2776, the major Justice Reinvestment legislation before lawmakers.

Among other things, the bill would limit the length of incarceration for first-time parole violators and require pre-trial risk assessment of adult offenders to be conducted within three days of their admission to a correctional facility.

Supporters say this would help reduce recidivism and keep nonviolent drug offenders out of prison. But the Chapmans argue that SB 2776 would put more criminals out on the streets.

"It's dangerous and not very well-thought out," Beth Chapman told Civil Beat.

Dog Chapman agreed, calling SB 2776 "a threat to public safety."

Both believe the Justice Reinvestment is "a scam."

Told of the Chapmans' views, Sen. Will Espero, a key supporter of Justice Reinvestment (JRI) and chair of Senate Public Safety, Government Operations and Military Affairs, defended the initiative.

"The Justice Center and the work it does is nationally known and has had tremendous success in states that it has been involved in," he said, referring to the national nonprofit that partners with states to establish JRI. "To call it a scam is ridiculous and, with all due respect, quite stupid."

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