PSD NEWS RELEASE – First EVER class of Halawa inmates receive associate degree from Chaminade University.

Posted on May 17, 2023 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

HONOLULU – The Halawa Correctional Facility (HCF) and Chaminade University of Honolulu held a commencement celebration at the facility for seven inmates today. (Note: An eighth inmate in the college program, who went to Chaminade after he left the facility, also graduated at the University’s graduation ceremony last week after completing his final semester.) The eight inmates were the first to graduate from a new college degree program offered at the facility by Chaminade University.


“Chaminade University of Honolulu takes immense pride in celebrating the accomplishments of its inaugural cohort of graduating students at Halawa Correctional Facility. Today marks a significant achievement for the graduating class; it’s a recognition of their perseverance, resilience, and commitment to self-improvement,” said Janet Davidson, Chaminade Vice Provost of Academic Affairs.


In 2021, Chaminade University launched the Second Chance Pell Grant program for Halawa inmates. All the participating student’s tuition, learning materials, and textbooks are fully covered by the Pell Grant as well as through generous donations from Chaminade’s community partners. These inmates worked for two years to obtain the 60 credits needed to earn their associate degree in Business Administration.


The program allows Chaminade professors to come to the facility and hold classes. General education courses such as history, poetry, drama, criminal justice, and communications are offered along with more advanced Business Administration courses that include accounting, statistics, introduction to business, and macroeconomics (see the full list of courses offered attached.)


“This is the first college degree graduation in a Hawaii correctional facility. These men received the same education they would get if they were attending in-person classes at Chaminade, with the difference being that it was offered in a prison learning center,” said Public Safety Department Director Tommy Johnson. “This program could not have been done without Chaminade University and PSD’s corrections program/education staff who worked together to create a pathway towards higher education for the incarcerated men at Halawa.” Director Johnson also stated that he looks forward to working with Chaminade University to expand this outstanding educational initiative to other correctional facilities.


“The success of this pilot program — between Chaminade University of Honolulu and the Hawaii Department of Public Safety — demonstrates that partnerships can lead to transformative change,” said Davidson. “With the support and guidance of Chaminade’s distinguished faculty and support staff and the cooperation and backing of Halawa Correctional Facility, these individuals have embraced the opportunity to redefine their futures. This program is part of Chaminade’s mission to educate for service, justice, and peace. We hope that with their newly gained education, these students will have the skills needed to rebuild their lives upon reintegration into society.”


“Growing up I put my mom and dad through a lot of stuff, stealing, getting arrested, running away, drugs, all kinds of crazy stuff. The hurt that I put on my parents was horrible. It took me to come to a place like this, unfortunately, to understand that, but this was my greatest accomplishment so far. I’m going to have many more and I hope that this made my parents and my friends proud of what I can do and what I can achieve, said Raphael Holley,” Halawa inmate and Chaminade graduate.


The inmates who graduated were:

Kelson Akeo

Albert Batalona

Anthony Chatman

John Granger

Raphael Holley

Ronald Page

Keola Rapoza

Nikkos Gordon (Graduated at Chaminade University)


Inmates can choose to continue their education with Chaminade after they are released.


The Department hopes to expand this partnership with Chaminade to eventually offer a bachelor’s degree and possibly career development services. Special thanks also go to First Hawaiian Bank, Atheron Family Foundation, and Sidney Stern Memorial Trust for their generous donations to Chaminade’s program.


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Pictures, video and sound from today’s news conference can be found here:

Soundbites include HCF inmates (more importantly Chaminade graduates) John Granger and Raphael Holley. Transcripts of their soundbites are attached.

Other soundbites include PSD Director Tommy Johnson, Chaminade President Dr. Lynn Babington and Chaminade Provost for Academic Affairs Dr. Janet Davidson.

Toni Schwartz
Public Information Officer
Hawai‘i Department of Public Safety &

Hawai‘i  Department of Law Enforcement
Office: 808-587-1358
Cell: 808-683-5507
[email protected]