Governor Ige, please veto HB1567!
Governor Ige, please veto HB1567!
Dear Governor Ige,
We, the undersigned and residents of the community of and the State of Hawaii, are strongly opposed to HB1567 Relating to Criminal Pretrial Reform.
A large amount, if not all, of the below signatures, come from the Stolen Stuff Hawaii community. We are comprised of over 190,000 Hawaii-based social media members. We have our finger on the pulse of crime in our community. This anti-crime group is a record of stories for victims of all crimes. Every victim’s tale of abuse by criminals paints a painful and powerful picture of those who are rarely held accountable for their actions. This bill has been poorly received and that is the reason we submit this petition.
Although we understand that the intent of HB1567 is to address the overcrowding in our jails, reduce expenditures as well as lessen the impact of monetary bail on disadvantaged populations, this bill will have an incredibly negative effect on our community. It will increase further crime by removing needed accountability from within our current judicial system. It will release offenders on their own recognizance, thereby allowing them to further victimize our neighborhoods and workplaces within hours of their arrest.
First, HB1567 Relating to Criminal Pretrial Reform should be vetoed because it wrongfully ignores a great amount of misdemeanor and, most worriedly, class C felony level offenses (punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine) that will result in a massive blow to the victims of such crimes.
These misdemeanors and class C felonies may include (in addition to others not listed):
- Burglary in the Second Degree (708-811)
- Theft in the third degree (708-832) ($250 to $750 in value)
- Theft in the second degree (708-831) ($750 to $20,000 in value)
- Unauthorized Control of a Propelled Vehicle (708-836)
- Unauthorized Control of a Propelled Vehicle 2nd (ACT 006 )
- Unauthorized Entry into Motor Vehicle in the First Degree (708-836.5)
- Aggravated Harassment by Stalking (711-1106.4 and 711-1106.5)
- Arson in the Third and Fourth Degree (708-8253 and 708-8254)
- Violation of Privacy in the First and Second Degree (711-1110.9 and 711-1111)
- Promoting Gambling in the First and Second Degree (712-1221 and 712-1222)
- Promoting pornography (712-1214)
- Habitual solicitation of prostitution12-1209.5)
- Negligent Injury in the First and Second Degree (707-705 and 707-706)
- Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree (707-722)
- Unauthorized Possession of Confidential Personal Information (708-839.8)
- Identity Theft (708-839.7)
- Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card (708-8100)
Secondly, HB1567 Relating to Criminal Pretrial Reform should be vetoed because it is opposed by the Department of the Attorney General, the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney and even the Office of the Public Defender, who supports this bill, has concerns. Those respective offices’ testimony explains that there are several ambiguities within the bill that need to be rectified before even considering signing.
In addition to those ambiguities, this legislation uses the distinction of whether the present charge is violent or non-violent as lodged by a prosecutor, of which the defendant is presumed innocent, as the sole basis to discriminate against defendants for purposes of getting a free release or requiring bail.
Another example is the exception for habitual property crime as noted in the bill. As it stands, a defendant could have 100 theft convictions yet not be considered a habitual property crime offender if in fact the Prosecutor’s Office fails to designate the offender as one. It is the Prosecutor's decision and discretion to charge a suspect as a habitual property crime offender. The offender must first be charged and then convicted to have the designation as a habitual property crime offender. Only then would the habitual property crime exception become active.
Thirdly, HB1567 Relating to Criminal Pretrial Reform should be vetoed because of the current increase in crime. Our islands thrive on tourism and our visitors are continually targeted. As of late, the news is overwhelmed with reports of everything from violence to property theft against both locals and tourists alike. The word is out: HAWAII IS NOT SAFE. This is reflected by tourists who have become victims here in our islands.
Also, as reported by the 2020 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting, Hawaii is ranked the 12th highest state in Property Crime: 2,411.4 property crimes per 100k people. Due to the pandemic, we released thousands of inmates from OCCC resulting in a backlog of cases and a severe lack of accountability for criminals, which consequently, has emboldened these offenders to commit more brazen crime.
In an attempt to follow in the footsteps of mainland cities and states who are choosing to be more lenient on crime, we are placing Hawaii on a path to suffer the same increase in violence and property theft that has resulted in the verifiable closure of businesses and unflinching victimization of their communities. When there is no accountability, there is nothing but apathy from criminals.
Arguably as a result, in just a short time, 2022 has shown a horrific increase in murders, attempted murders, as well as property crimes. Whether it’s catalytic converter theft, smash and grabs from local businesses and merchants, or other property crimes, we are facing an unwelcome and unprecedented time for our community.
With a severe undermining of local law enforcement, the revolving door of crime creates an immense frustration that is tangible to our police officers. This bill will arguably result in further loss of morale as their efforts to combat crime will be waylaid by repeated arrests of the same individuals over and over again—with no immediate accountability.
Fourth, HB1567 Relating to Criminal Pretrial Reform should be vetoed because it will greatly affect our small businesses. Testimony from the Retail Merchants of Hawaii illustrated this in their testimony. Offenders are caught and then released, and as a result, the merchants are facing an upward increase in theft. There also seems to be organized crime that target their stores as they return over and over to steal just within the limits of 3rd and 2nd degree theft.
Fifth, our judges already exercise enormous compassion while considering releasing individuals on their own recognizance. It’s highly likely that most pre-trial defendants being held in jail have issues necessitating their continued confinement. Judges should always be afforded the discretion privy to them as part of the judicial branch.
The residual exception of a judge may set bail if the “defendant presents a risk of danger to any other person or to the community, or a risk of recidivism” would sweep in all defendants. All persons are a risk to not show up in court to some degree. This exception is the law judges follow today under Stack v. Boyle, and thus the exception guts the law and renders it meaningless and that will only expand releases of high-risk defendants charged with a defined low-risk crime today.
Governor, our community is crying out for help. Our businesses have yet to recover from the effects of lockdowns and our judicial system has yet to normalize. Now is not the time for such a massive change in our judicial system and we respectfully ask you to please veto HB1567.
Let the following voices, many who have been victims of crimes, be heard.
Stolen Stuff Hawaii
Reviewed and Edited by Megan Kau, Attorney At Law
Reference & Article Links (Starting on May 4th, 2022):
Image used under editorial license via Shutterstock.com.
Portions of this petition's text are taken from testimony submitted to HB1567 while at the Hawaii State Legislature.
This petition was reviewed by and includes comments from members of the Hawaii community, law enforcement, and attorneys at law.