Convicted murderer Justin Boulay was released from prison in Illinois yesterday, and when he arrives in Hawaii to live with the wife he married behind bars, he will join seven other people here convicted of homicide in other states.
Boulay, 33, was convicted of strangling an 18-year-old ex-girlfriend with a phone cord in 1998, and is being released to his wife in Hawaii after serving 12 years in prison. His release has rankled residents in both states, prompting vigils in the victim’s honor.
But the circumstance is not an unfamiliar one to Hawaii, which not only supervises convicted murderers from other states but has eight convicted murderers scattered across the mainland and supervised by respective state paroling authorities, said Hawaii Paroling Authority Executive Director Max Otani.
Hawaii is obligated by the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision created in 2002 by the states and administered by a national commission.
According to the compact’s rules, a receiving state has "no discretion" on whether to accept a convict as long as the offender satisfies the following criteria:
» Has more than 90 days or an indefinite period of supervision remaining at the time the sending states transmit the request.
» Has a valid plan of supervision.
» Is in substantial compliance with supervision terms in the sending state.
» Either is a resident of the receiving state or has a family member there.
Otani said Boulay met all the criteria.
If the state had decided not to accept Boulay, Illinois would have had the option to petition the interstate commission. There are provisions for mediation and arbitration between states, and an arbitrator has the power to impose sanctions, according to commission rules.
Sanctions include fines, fees and costs, all at the discretion of the commission, as well as remedial training and technical assistance for the state.
"The commission would come in and make a decision for us," Otani said. "There’s a good chance we would have to accept the case anyway, in addition to possible penalties by the commission."
The Hawaii Paroling Authority is supervising 42 felony cases from the mainland as of October. Hawaii has 145 felony cases being supervised on the mainland, including eight homicide cases.
"We have three times as many parolees in the mainland as we take in to Hawaii," Otani said. "I think it works in our favor."
Otani said the idea behind the interstate compact is to allow offenders to live in communities where they would have the most support and the most likely success, "hopefully adjusting well in a neighborhood where there’s no opposition from the community."
But there has been backlash in Honolulu already. Otani, who has been with the authority since 1987, said he has never seen outcry quite like the one Boulay’s release has caused.
The mother of the victim, Andrea Faye Will, has called Boulay’s release a "slap in the face," the Associated Press reported.
"For myself and my family, it has been a complete and total injustice since the day he was arrested," said Patricia Rosenberg of Batavia, Ill.
Boulay was sentenced to 24 years in prison, but an old Illinois law shaved a day off every day for good behavior behind bars. Since Boulay’s conviction, truth-in-sentencing laws were passed to require violent offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.
In 2007, Boulay married a woman who is now an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Supporters of Rosenberg have coordinated an e-mail campaign to raise awareness of Boulay’s release, which resulted in vigils in Illinois and Hawaii.
Among the voices of protest was city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, who asked the Paroling Authority to reject the transfer request to Honolulu.
When he heard of the case, he saw what he called a red flag: a man who murdered a female university student is married to a faculty member of a local university.
"If I was not informed ahead of time, this guy could probably be a student at the University of Hawaii, walking around campus not supervised," Kaneshiro said.
Otani said the state has negotiated to impose geographical restrictions on Boulay. He is no longer allowed on college campuses.
Kaneshiro is a member of a state council, which also includes members from the state House and Senate, the state Attorney General’s Office and the Judiciary.
The paroling agency is not required to alert the state council of incoming parolees from other states. Kaneshiro wants to fix that, and has asked to meet with the council.
Kaneshiro said he wants the state to at least alert him of incoming parolees, particularly violent offenders.
"At least we could have some part in imposing conditions," Kaneshiro said.