More than 300 convicted criminals whose status is technically “incarcerated” are actually out among us daily statewide on work furlough.
But the Department of Public Safety does not want you to know who they are.
KHON2’s Always Investigating got the information after years fighting for disclosure and a ruling in our favor by the Office of Information Practices, the state’s public records watchdog entity. View the full decision here.
We had been pressing for a list for years through the open records appeal process after cases where inmates out on furlough committed additional crimes.
Turns out, convicted murderers are among the inmates who are out in the community working while finishing their sentence.
We took the information to Honolulu’s prosecuting attorney, Keith Kaneshiro, who said he’s taken aback by what he sees.
Kaneshiro told Always Investigating he and his team fought against the furlough option for some of the convicts listed, and was surprised to learn they got into the program anyway.
“Especially in a murder, what is the just punishment for taking someone’s life?” Kaneshiro said.
Prosecutors pointed out several convicted killers who are out on furlough, including Todd Raines, who murdered his landlord with a machete in 1984.
“The public should know people who committed a crime, who have been in prison, whether they’re released, when they’re released, and not only the public, but the victims who were involved,” Kaneshiro said.
The list also includes sex offenders and others who have been in and out of prison on multiple convictions.
“What’s really striking in particular is this is an extensive list of people. Many of the names I’m familiar with who are repeat offenders who have been in and out of the system numerous times,” said attorney Myles Breiner. “I am a bit surprised that the DPS fought against disclosure of this list. To me, this should be public access information.”
The Department of Public Safety opposed making it public, turning us down for years. When we appealed, the department told the state’s open record agency that inmates have privacy rights, and listing their names would “obstruct inmates’ ability to successfully attend and complete programs intended to assist them in reintegrating and becoming positive contributing members of society.”
The department said disclosure would even create havoc, disrupt rehabilitation, and allow others with wrongful intentions to get at the furloughed inmates.
“You can have a new start in life, but you cannot forget what you’ve done in the past,” Kaneshiro said. “I don’t think it casts aspersion because they’re coming out from prison. They have committed a crime that justified going to prison, and they have to live with that. You can’t just forget about that.”
In siding with KHON2 and requiring DPS to hand over the list, the Office of Information Practices said, “Inmates’ minimal privacy interests do not warrant withholding the lists from the public.”
After all, furlough is a step just before someone’s about to be let out on parole.
“By law, unless you’re convicted of an offense and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, every inmate has the right to become parole eligible,” Breiner said. “They have to complete a number of programs.”
Programs like furlough, which one of Breiner’s clients has been continually denied access to: John Freudenberg, known as the Manoa rapist.
“Every time he has come up for parole, the parole board reasonably has indicated that they want him to participate in a furlough program. Consistently again, the state has refused to allow him to participate,” Breiner said.
Freudenberg’s name was not on the waitlist section of the disclosure. DPS has said his application is under review. The parole board holds another hearing in September, where his attorney says this list may be brought up when they seek to go straight to parole, skipping furlough.
“It only further supports my position that the DPS can’t be trusted to treat Mr. Freudenberg fairly, like any other inmate,” Breiner said. “I see on this list many inmates with sentences that are 10, 20, 30 years in the system, yet again, they are qualified to enter the furlough program. It’s simply mind-boggling.”
KHON2 periodically requests lists of prison and furlough escapes and walkaways, and whether charges for escape ever materialize. We’ll now pair that data review with periodic requests for the furlough list.
But it’s law enforcement, who has long wanted access to the information we got, who say they’ll also keep a close eye.
“We will seek it more regularly, and we will make a periodic request for the list,” Kaneshiro said. “When we see a person who is being considered for furlough, we know the next step is parole, so we have to be at the parole hearings. We’re not involved in the decision to place a person on furlough, but we are involved in whether someone is granted parole, because we have an opportunity to object.”
Frequent furlough escapes and walkaways, and crimes committed while out, led us to seek the list of whose allowed out on any given day in the first place.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on escapes, and also how often or whether those are convicted of that additional crime.