The Community Assistance Center History
The Community Assistance Center was founded in 1958 as an all-volunteer (no paid staff) agency dedicated to providing assistance to inmates of (then) Oahu Prison who were returning to the community after having served their sentences. Originally known as the John Howard Association of Hawai’i, named after the 18th Century reformer who dedicated his life and fortune to improving conditions in English prisons, the agency took its present name in 2003.
The John Howard Association of Hawaii started out as a walk-in service center offering emergency housing assistance, job-placement services, and clothing, shoes, and other immediate necessities for newly-released inmates. Its original office was located above the Kau Kau Korner Drive-In restaurant at the gateway to Waikiki, and funding was provided almost entirely by membership dues, fundraisers, and donations from local individuals and businesses.
Over the years, the agency has developed and operated a variety of programs and activities designed to fit the needs of the community and the criminal justice system, including:
- Founding Hawai’i’s first halfway house for newly-released inmates, Liliha House, in 1970.
- In-prison visits to provide pre-release counseling to inmates.
- Created the Waianae Rap Center, a Model Cities Drug Abuse Program for youth, in 1970.
- Worked toward the passage in 1972 of the Hawaii Revised Penal Code and Master Plan on Corrections in Hawai’i.
- Developed the Juvenile Anger Management Program for Family Court on Oahu in 1988.
- Established Hui Ola Juvenile Transition Home for youth offenders in 1990.
- Established Ho’ulu Kuahiwi Wilderness Program for adjudicated youth in 1990, based on the Outward Bound model.
- Began developing and operating the Sex Offender Treatment Program for the State of Hawai’i Department of Public Safety, 1991.
Today, Community Assistance Center continues to work for the improvement of Hawai’i’s criminal justice system through public information and education, initiation and support of penal reform, and the development of new programs tailored to the needs of the people of Hawai’i.
CAC is dedicated to the concept of alternative sentencing as a means of lowering taxpayer costs and improving prison conditions, providing responsible community treatment plans, monitoring and redefining external programs, and supporting progressive individualized plans for sentences other than prison for qualified convicted felons.