Mark Kawika Patterson is currently the Administrator of the Hawai`i Youth Correctional Facility, Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center. Mr. Patterson began his career in Hawai`i’s Department of Public Safety over 34 years ago as a corrections officer. He rose to the ranks of Warden in 2007 and began a successful tenure working at Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC). At WCCC, he facilitated a transitional process to instill trauma-informed practices throughout the facility, state agencies, and community partners.
In June 2014, Mr. Patterson was recruited to build upon his success at WCCC and assist the reform efforts at the Hawai`i Youth Correctional Facility for the Office of Youth Services (OYS). In this role, he continued his trauma-informed care work to integrate opportunities to identify and address trauma and strengthen family connections. His passion to rethink the corrections approach and move toward a therapeutic approach was centered on the Hawaiian concept of creating a pu`uhonua—a traditional Hawaiian place or sanctuary of healing. He is involved in numerous state and national trauma-informed care initiatives and consults with national experts on how trauma-informed care environments can improve outcomes in correctional settings. In 2018, Mr. Patterson and OYS partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice’s Ending Girls’ Incarceration initiative and in July 2022, Hawai`i achieved a first-ever milestone—zero girls incarcerated in the Hawai`i Youth Correctional Facility. His advocacy pushed laws and policies to integrate therapeutic and indigenous methods of healing for the incarcerated population and supported Hawai`i’s efforts to reduce youth incarceration by 82% in the last 10 years. Mr. Patterson is an active member of the Opportunity Youth Action Hawai`i group, an assembly of state and community partners whose project, “Kawailoa: A Transformative Indigenous Model to Replace Youth Incarceration,” was selected as a W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity 2030 Challenge award for $20 million over an eight-year commitment.
Mr. Patterson is currently the chair of the Correctional System Oversight Commission (established in 2019 through Act 179). His service has been instrumental in Hawai`i’s movement to become a trauma-informed state over the past 15 years.