'Ewa halfway house planned
By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Central O'ahu Writer
'EWA The state drug court is considering opening a transitional home for nonviolent drug offenders in the 'Ewa Beach area.
Dubbed a "clean and sober" house, the home would provide living quarters for convicted drug users who are on the equivalent of probation in state drug court.
Janice Bennett, the Hawai'i Drug Court director who spoke before the 'Ewa Neighborhood Board this month about the proposed facility, said it would not operate as a normal halfway house.
"We are working with the state housing corporation now on available housing to purchase or lease around the island," Bennett said. "But we're hoping the clean-and-sober facility could be done here in conjunction with the possible expansion of the federal Weed & Seed program to the 'Ewa area this spring."
Hawai'i Drug Court gives nonviolent offenders a chance to avoid jail by enrolling in strictly supervised substance abuse treatment.
Defendants involved in nonviolent crimes who have no history of violence or firearm charges are eligible for Drug Court. The charges against them don't have to be related to drugs as long as the defendant has a substance abuse problem.
Bennett said sex offenders would not be placed at the clean-and-sober house. She added there is no specific timeline to purchase or lease homes in the area through the state housing corporation.
"Obviously, we would want the clean-and-sober home in a neighborhood away from potential drug activity," she said.
Five unrelated adults between the ages of 18 and 55 would stay at the residence, Bennett said. The clients would go elsewhere for substance abuse treatment.
Drug court supervisors would conduct random tests at the house about every three days, she said.
Despite Bennett's assurances that only nonviolent drug offenders would be living at the proposed house, Jeff Alexander, 'Ewa Neighborhood Board chairman, said he is skeptical about the idea.
"I understand that they have to help these people assimilate in the community, but whatever you call it, every halfway house they've brought here has not worked," Alexander said. "I'm not trying to be a 'not in my back yard' type of person, but they need to look at other solutions."
Bennett is scheduled to update the board on the drug court's plans.
Reach Scott Ishikawa at 535-2429 or email@example.com.