Bishop Pahia, ‘lifeline’ for those released from jail/prison retires

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April 1, 2024

Bishop Pahia has been a “lifeline” for more than a thousand inmates released from jail and prison during his 15 years with Maui Economic Opportunity’s Being Empowered and Safe Together (BEST) program, which helps these men and women rejoin the community.

But after today, Bishop will no longer be available to drive these recently released inmates around to get their identification and health insurance, sign them up for substance abuse treatment and be their friend and counselor. The former corrections officer at Maui Community Correctional Center is retiring from MEO.

A surprise party was held for Bishop on Friday, March 22, at MEO in Wailuku. Bishop’s family, friends, his colleagues and former clients joined the festivities.

Several “success stories” paid tribute to Bishop, embracing the man with conviction and tears for helping them get on the right track. His wife, Pat, told the story of a man who stopped to tell Bishop proudly that he had a good job and was reunited with his children.

When many leave the jail or prison, “they have no place to go, nobody that loves them, nobody even wants to pick them up,” Bishop said.

“That’s the beauty of it,” he continued. “You give of yourself. You give as much as you can. And let God take care of the rest.”

As the senior BEST specialist, Bishop’s job was to help those released from jail/prison to transition back into the community. In the near term, he helped his clients obtain the necessities – identification, health insurance, a cellphone, housing and food. Then, the focus turned to stabilization with job training, employment, substance abuse treatment and staying on the path.

The path to success is not linear with many clients going through the revolving door of jail/prison and freedom. Bishop was there for them and in most cases, established a bond, evidenced by the warm, emotional hugs he received at his party.

One of his revolving door clients recently contacted Bishop after his release again. The man, who had been in and out of jail more than 10 times, had no place to go with his family home destroyed in the Lahaina fire.

“This last time, I looked in his eyes and he looked really scared. Before he wasn’t that scared. He’d just go back to the streets.

“This last time I told him, ‘you know, I’m not going be around anymore. You cannot be calling me from the jail every time you get in trouble.’ ”

“I was like his lifeline,” Bishop said.

He hasn’t heard from the client, which is a good sign. Bishop has high hopes for him this time given his age.

“Always be patient, honest, kind and be a good listener,” Bishop explained. “I always say you only have to help one person to be a success.”

Uilani Ah Chan will be taking Bishop’s place as the BEST specialist. For more information about the BEST program, call Community Services at (808) 249-2970.



Bishop Pahia, MEO’s BEST specialist, gets a hug at his surprise retirement party Friday, March 22, at MEO’s Wailuku Classroom. Pahia assisted those released from jail/prison for the last 15 years.

Janeth Cerizo displays a clock that was given to the retiring Bishop Pahia with the inscription “Galatians 6:9-10.” The Bible passage reads: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Community Services Director Cassi Yamashita and BEST specialist Bishop Pahia often conducted classes in Maui Community Correctional Center together.

Bishop and Debbie

Bishop Pahia poses for a photo with his family at his surprise retirement party.

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