Crime in Hawai`i at record lows

The Hawai`i Attorney General released the CRIME IN HAWAI`I 2016 Report today with this headline on the news release:  CRIME IN HAWAII AT RECORD LOW LEVEL IN 2016.

Download the 195-page report

Excerpt from news release:

“HONOLULU – Attorney General Douglas S. Chin announced today the release of the State of Hawaii’s annual Uniform Crime Report, Crime in Hawaii, 2016. The report shows that in Calendar Year 2016, a total of 45,805 Index Crimes* were reported in the State of Hawaii, yielding a rate of 3,206 offenses per 100,000 resident population, the lowest on record since statewide data collection began in 1975. Hawaii’s Index Crime rate in 2016 was 6.2% below the rate reported in 2015, and 27.1% below the rate reported a decade earlier (2007).

“Attorney General Chin said, “The record low crime statistics in 2016 highlight the outstanding work of law enforcement throughout the State and in all four counties. These numbers also help refute the false narrative from President Trump’s administration that crime in our country is at an all-time high.”

Hawai`iʻs crime rate is the lowest on record since statewide data collection began in 1975. Why then are certain legislators pushing a BIG jail and a HUMONGOUS prison? Cui bono? Who benefits? 2018 is an election year…VOTE! (Check back in for post, coming soon, on the Public Access Room and workshops on how to advocate at the legislature.)

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Youth Justice – “Does childhood end at 18?”

Todayʻs post is all about youth justice. We open with an article about Nevada passing a Juvenile Justice Bill of Rights law that mandates that detention facilities inform youth and their guardian of a youth’s right to be treated with dignity and respect, receive healthcare, food, education, and be free from abuse.

We follow that piece with links to two articles questioning whether individuals 18 years old should be treated as adults in light of research about brain development that indicates that the frontal cortex (the part of the brain that acts as its executive center) is not fully developed until a person is in their mid-twenties.

And the last item is an article about a Chicago youth program that is working.

NV Passes Youth Justice Bill of Rights
Josh Gordon, National Juvenile Justice Project, June 20, 2017

Excerpt:
“The Juvenile Justice Bill of Rights mandates that detention facilities inform youth and their guardian of a youth’s right to be treated with dignity and respect, receive healthcare, food, education, and be free from abuse. The bill also makes it clear that youth who believe their rights are violated have the right to file a grievance for redress.

“With the bill of rights passage, Nevada actively places the burden on the state to inform youth and their families.”

 

Who’s a Kid?
Science — and law enforcement — are rethinking young adults.
Dana Goldstein, The Marshall Project, Oct. 27, 2016

Excerpt:
“Consider three young people: An 18-year old who can vote, but can’t legally buy a beer; a 21-year old who can drink, but is charged extra to rent a car; and a 25-year old who can rent a car at the typical rate, but remains eligible for his parents’ health insurance.

“Which one is an adult? All of them? None of them? Some of them? Or does it depend on the individual?

“These questions are newly salient in the criminal justice system. Over the past year, several states—including Vermont, Illinois, New York, and Connecticut—have debated laws that would change how the justice system treats offenders in their late teens and early twenties. It remains the case that in 22 states, children of any age—even those under 10—can be prosecuted as adults for certain crimes. “Raise the Age” campaigns across the country are pushing for legal changes in order to treat all offenders under 18 as juveniles. But some advocates and policymakers are citing research to argue 18 is still too young, and that people up to the age of 25 remain less than fully grown up.

“Some of the most compelling evidence comes via magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. In 2011, brain researchers Catherine Lebel and Christian Beaulieu published a study of 103 people between the ages of 5 and 32, each of whom received multiple brain scans over the course of six years. The researchers were looking for changes in white brain matter, a material that supports impulse control and many other types of cognitive functioning. The majority of participants in the study, including those as old as 32, experienced increases in white matter connectivity between scans. In some parts of the brain, this connectivity increased by as much as 4 percent between the ages of 20 and 30, compared to as much as a 6 percent change between the ages of 10 and 20. In a separate study of 403 children and adults, the same researchers and a group of collaborators found that the volume of white brain matter peaks around age 37. Altogether, the research suggests that brain maturation continues into one’s twenties and even thirties.

(…)

“If people in their twenties are a lot like adolescents socially and biologically, should they really be considered full adults under the law? Many advocates who work directly with this population say no. “For many years, the idea of how to achieve public safety with this group was you want to lock them up, protect the community by not having them around,” said Yotam Zeira, director of external affairs for Roca, a Massachusetts organization that provides counseling, education, and job training to 17 to 24-year old male offenders. “The sad reality is that after you lock them up, nothing gets better. Public safety is not really improved. Prosecutors know they are prosecuting, again and again, the same people.”

“Zeira, the coauthor of a report on justice alternatives for this age group, sees three possible reforms: reclassifying young adults in their early twenties as juveniles, as is the case in Germany and the Netherlands; providing judges, attorneys, and probation programs more tools within the adult system to treat younger defendants with leniency and rehabilitation; or creating an entirely new young adult justice system “in between” the family and criminal court, with specially trained prosecutors and judges and less of a mandate to incarcerate. …”

Does childhood end at 18?
Jessica Pishko, writer at Fair Punishment Project, In Justice Today, August 17, 2017

Excerpt:
“If someone commits a crime days after turning 18, should he be treated like an adult or a child?

“In two recent cases — Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana — the U.S. Supreme Court held that life-without-parole should be reserved for the rare kid (defined as someone under 18) “whose crime reflects irreparable corruption,” citing the ability of youth to evolve and scientific discoveries about young adult brain development. “Children are different,” Justice Kagan wrote, neatly summarizing modern-day medical understanding and common sense attributable to anyone who knows a teenager.

“But does 18 makes sense as an arbitrary cut-off? More courts across the country are saying no. After all, people under 18 cannot drink or rent a car. Experts say that the brain continues to develop profoundly between the ages of 18 to 22. And anyone with common sense who knows someone between 18 and 22 cannot reasonably argue that they are able to make the same judgments an adult would make.

(…)

“… It’s important to remember that these cases are not making a blanket statement about whether individuals deserve lesser sentences — rather they are simply providing the opportunity for young individuals to present evidence that they may be less culpable than others.

“As courts across the country face resentencings for inmates who were unconstitutionally condemned to die in prison as youth, there is hope that the arbitrary age cut-off of 18 may soon erode to allow for individualized sentencing.”

 

How a Chicago Program Cut Violent Arrests in Half
Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy thinks emotional well-being can help reduce gun deaths.
Olga Khazan, June 25, 2017

Excerpt:
“On an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns—more than in any other developed country. National reforms, such as closing loopholes around background checks, might help curb that, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said this past week at the Aspen Ideas Festival. But those types of changes aren’t likely to make it through a Republican-led Congress. So instead, Murthy pointed out some initiatives individual communities can take on to reduce gun deaths at the local level.

“Murthy specifically highlighted programs focused on reducing stress and isolation, and that promoted positive social connections. One impactful example, Murthy said, is “the Chicago ‘Becoming A Man’ program — a one-year intervention, over 32 or so weeks, where kids met with a mentor once a week to develop social connection, to develop skills on how to handle conflict and adversity. In one year compared to a control group they had a 44 percent reduction in violent arrests.”

We celebrate the advocates working with our youth to help them reach their fullest potential. Mahalo to all you good people working with our next generation of leaders!

In support of sentencing reform

We open with an article about Louisiana – the state that incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the U.S. – that is currently reviewing the sentences of 16,000 people who could have their prison time shortened as criminal law changes take effect Nov. 1. This is another red state that is working on criminal justice reform while Hawai`i is proposing to build BIG new jails and prisons. Why is Hawai`iʻs solution for dealing with overcrowding always more beds? WE NEED MORE JUSTICE!

We follow this article with a Washington Post piece about releasing violent lawbreakers – not just non-violent lawbreakers – to reform the criminal processing system.

Lastly, we follow with the summary of the Urban Instituteʻs report, A MATTER OF TIME,  and the write up in Professor Bermanʻs Sentencing Law and Policy Blog about it.

 

Louisiana to review 16,000 prison sentences as criminal justice reform takes effect
Julia O’Donoghue, August 16, 2012, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Excerpt:
“Louisiana’s Public Safety and Corrections officials are reviewing the sentences of 16,000 inmates who could have their prison time shortened as criminal law changes take effect Nov. 1. That’s around 45 percent of the 35,500 people the state has locked up now.

“Gov. John Bel Edwards and the state Legislature overhauled the criminal justice system this past spring, aiming to reduce Louisiana’s highest-in-the-world incarceration rate. Some law changes have already taken place, but changes that mostly retroactively affect low-level offenders in prison go into place in November — driving the review.”

 

The case for releasing violent offenders
Radley Balko, August 14, 2017, Washington Post

Excerpt:
In an important op-ed in the New York Times last week, Marc Morjé Howard argued in favor of parole — not just for drug offenders but also for violent offenders. It isn’t an easy argument to make. But it’s past time to start making it.

“Prisoners whose sentences include a range of years — such as 15 to 25 years, or 25 years to life — can apply to their state’s parole board for discretionary parole, but they almost always face repeated denials and are sent back to wither away behind bars despite evidence of rehabilitation. (Inmates who have served their maximum sentence are released on what is called mandatory parole.)

“Rejection is usually based on the “nature of the crime,” rather than an evaluation of a person’s transformation and accomplishments since they committed it. The deeper reason for the rejection of discretionary parole requests is simple: fear. Politicians and parole board members are terrified that a parolee will commit a new crime that attracts negative media attention. …

“…Retribution is the dominant paradigm driving incarceration today. We want to punish criminals. We want them to suffer. We create hostile prison environments rife with violence, racial resentment and rape. This is what politicians have run on and demagogued since the Warren Court. …

“…In the end, this is a question of what sort of society we want to be. We can be a punitive society that believes in retribution, no matter the costs. We can be a society that believes in redemption, regardless of cost. Or we can be a society of people who strive for a rational, data-driven system that will never be perfect, but that will strive to protect us from truly dangerous people while also recognizing that, as the attorney and activist Bryan Stevenson puts it, “each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

 

A Matter of Time: The Causes and Consequences of Rising Time Served in America’s Prisons
Urban Institute, July 2017
Executive Summary
Excerpt:
“Policymakers on both sides of the aisle now recognize mass incarceration as a costly and dangerous problem. Yet many criminal justice reforms focus only on low-level offenses while the longest prison terms continue to grow even longer. These long terms keep prison populations high and prevent states from meaningfully addressing mass incarceration. The conversation around reform must begin to include people convicted of serious offenses and consider not just how many people go to prison but how long they stay there.”

 

Urban Institute releases “A Matter of Time: The Causes and Consequences of Rising Time Served in America’s Prisons”
Sentencing Law & Policy, July 13, 2017

 

We need policymakers and legislators with backbone. Ones who actually acknowledge the values that our communities hold dear, who understand that sound policymaking is dependent upon scientifically-sound and thoughtful deliberation and who are willing to stand up for the truth. 

2018 is really close. START ASKING QUESTIONS OF YOUR LEGISLATOR NOW. DEMAND TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND INTEGRITY!

 

Poverty and Guaranteed Income

Today our post is about poverty and how expensive it is to be poor.  A March 2014 article in Forbes magazine entitled, “The War on Poverty Wasn’t A Failure — It Was A Catastrophe” explained it:

…The stated goal of the War on Poverty, as enunciated by Lyndon Johnson on January 8, 1964, was, “…not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.”  Measured against this objective, the War on Poverty has not just been a failure, it has been a catastrophe.  It was supposed to help America’s poor become self-sufficient, and it has made them dependent and dysfunctional.

This is fact is illustrated most vividly by the “Anchored Supplemental Poverty Measure Before Taxes and Transfers*” (ASPMBTAT).  This metric was devised to assess the ability of people to earn enough, not counting taxes and subsidies, to keep themselves and their dependent children out of poverty.  The income required to do this varies by family size and composition, but, for a family comprising two adults and two children, it is $25,500/year (in 4Q2013 dollars).

The ASPMBTAT is the ultimate quantitative test of the success (or failure) of the War on Poverty, at least in terms of its stated objective.  Shortly after the War on Poverty got rolling (1967), about 27% of Americans lived in poverty.  In 2012, the last year for which data is available, the number was about 29%. …

Being Poor Is More Expensive Than You’d Think
For giant corporations, there’s big money to be made on the backs of those who have no money.
Joshua Wilkey, This Appalachian Life, August 8, 2017

Excerpt:

Poor people are cash cows.

It makes no sense, really. One would think that poor people, by virtue of being poor, would not be profitable customers. However, for many large corporations that target the poor and working poor, there’s big money to be made on the backs of those who have no money...

…Payday lending is one of the most sinister ways that large corporations exploit poor people. For those who are not familiar, payday lending goes something like this: People who are running short on money but who have a verified record of regular income (whether it be Social Security, SSI, payroll, etc.) are able to go to payday lenders and receive a cash loan to be repaid on payday. Often, borrowers are unable to repay their full loan balances and simply “roll over” their loan until a future payday, accruing all sorts of fees and additional interest. The annualized interest rate on these loans is often in the triple digits. Yes, that’s right. Sometimes the annual interest rate is over one hundred percent. (In Hawai`i the annual percentage rate is 457%)…

…The limited options available to those in poverty are rarely considered by the political ideologues who are so prone to victim-blaming. These retailers, who are all too often protected by state and federal lawmakers from both parties, package their predatory tactics as opportunities. What they are really selling are tickets on yet another segment of the poverty train. The politicians who protect them should be deprived of options and see just how much more expensive it is to survive. They should be ashamed for protecting those who profit from poverty, and those of us who know about it and have the resources to fight back should be ashamed for letting it happen to our neighbors.

 

Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income
Mark Karlin, Truthout, June 25, 2017

What is needed to bring justice to those people capitalism regards as disposable? Could a guaranteed national income be a start? Paul Buchheit tackles this question in his new book, Disposable Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income. The following is a Truthout interview with Paul Buchheit.

 

Hawaii could be the first state to implement universal basic income
“The economy remains stable, everyone benefits, and no one is left behind.”
Amelia Kinney, Nation of Change, June 25, 2017

Faced with one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country, Hawaii is seeking to pass a progressive new law. Universal basic income would end the extreme poverty that overshadows Hawaii’s faltering economy.

 

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of.
In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
– Confucius

Prosecutors

Today’s post is about prosecutors and leads off with articles about Honolulu prosecutors getting blasted by Judge Nakasone for bringing charges against a woman who’d previously filed a sex discrimination suit against a major donor to Honolulu’s prosecutor in his reelection. This is followed by an article from June about the mess in the Honolulu prosecutor’s office. Both of these articles are from Harvard’s Fair Punishment Project.

Next are links to articles about an Illinois Supreme Court decision rendered on June 29, 2017 that smacked down a prosecutor who created his own private police force with civil asset forfeiture dollars followed by an article about the decision from Harvard’s Fair Punishment Project. I’m trying to balance this post so it is not all hopeless when the gatekeepers of the criminal processing system are focused entirely on their own power rather than the fair administration of justice. These articles illustrate how the courts provide the necessary balance for the administration of justice.

THIS IS WHY WE NEED AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY.

Having said that, next is an article about the incredible power that AG Sessions has given prosecutors over the guidelines for the use of forensic evidence in court. In the past, the guidelines had been developed collaboratively with the Department of Justice and a panel of scientists.  Sessions’ DOJ is now omitting the scientists and using the cover that every president has the right to change things. This change is really scary since advances in forensic science have led to many exonerations for people wrongfully convicted. Prosecutors are NOT scientists! Would you go to a plumber if you had cancer?

Honolulu prosecutor criticized for prosecuting woman who accused major campaign donor of sex discrimination
Larry Hannan, reporter and researcher at the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard University
August 2, 2017

Honolulu prosecutor subject of criminal probe
Larry Hannan, June 26, 2017

Prosecutor Can’t Create Drug Squad To Seize Cash From Innocent Drivers, Illinois Supreme Court Rules
Institute For Justice, Nick Sibilla , Contributor
July 17, 2017

Court rejects prosecutor’s unlawful use of seized funds
Larry Hannan – reporter and researcher at the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard University
Aug 7, 2017

Jeff Sessions Scuttles Forensics Partnership With Scientists
Beth Reinhard, August 7, 2017

This post is meant to illustrate how the balance of power in the administration of justice is shifting and how important it is for us to speak out against changes like this. The states are still the laboratories of justice, therefore, we must be vigilant to ensure that our people’s rights are protected.

Civil Asset Forfeiture & Hawai`i

Today’s post is all about civil asset forfeiture. There have been bills at the legislature for decades that have always been defeated by law enforcement (which is kind of ironic since stealing is a crime). The problem is pretty widespread. In 2015, The Washington Post reported that law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did. Here is the description of the program from the AG’s website: http://ag.hawaii.gov/cjd/asset-forfeiture-unit/:

ASSET FORFEITURE PROGRAM
The Asset Forfeiture Program was created in 1988 by a law enforcement coalition consisting of the Attorney General and the four county prosecutors and police chiefs. The purpose was to create a law which would be both procedurally and substantively comprehensive and, to the extent possible, uniform across the State. The program operates pursuant to Chapter 712A of the Hawaii Revised Statutes and provides a mechanism to enable law enforcement to take away the means by which criminals engage in their unlawful activity and the benefits derived from that unlawful activity.

Here is an excerpt about Hawai`i from the Institute for Justice’s 2010 report :

HAWAI`I EARNS A “D” IN POLICING FOR PROFIT REPORT

            Hawaii’s Law & Practices

            Hawaii earned among the worst grades in the nation for its civil forfeiture laws according to IJ’s rankings.  They are in need of serious reform.  The state may forfeit your property by showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was used in a crime.  Unfortunately, if you are an innocent owner and believe your property was wrongly seized, you bear the burden of proof.  Law enforcement has a strong incentive to seize property, as they receive 100 percent of the funds raised through civil forfeiture.  For analysis of Hawaii’s ranking, visit:  http://www.ij.org/PolicingForProfit/HI.

            To end policing for profit, the Institute for Justice recommends that, first, law enforcement should be required to convict people before taking their property.  Law enforcement agencies could still prosecute criminals and forfeit their ill-gotten possessions—but the rights of innocent property owners would be protected.  Second, police and prosecutors shouldn’t be paid on commission.  To end the perverse profit incentive, forfeiture revenue must be placed in a neutral fund, like a state’s general fund.  It should also be tracked and reported so law enforcement is held publicly accountable.  Finally, equitable sharing must be abolished to ensure that when states act to limit forfeiture abuse, law enforcement cannot evade the new rules and continue pocketing forfeiture money.

The 2nd Policing for Profit report from the Institute for Justice released in 2015 showed that Hawai`i has now slipped to a D- :

Hawaii earns a D- for its civil forfeiture laws:

  • Low bar to forfeit and no conviction required
  • Poor protections for innocent third-party property owners
  • 100% of forfeiture proceeds go to law enforcement

If you want to see how much money the law enforcement coalition raked in, go to: https://www.justice.gov/afp/reports-congress/fy2014-hawaii.

The first article is another scary proclamation from AG Sessions. This is followed by a rebuttal op-ed by a law professor who concludes: Sessions is doing exactly the wrong thing by doubling down on asset seizure. The message it sends is that the feds see the rest of us as prey, not as citizens. The attorney general should be ashamed to take that position. And, really, he should just be gone.

Jeff Sessions Announces Plan for Cops to Steal More Property by Increasing Civil Asset Forfeiture
Jack Burns, The Free Thought Project, July 19, 2017

Forget Russia. I’d fire Jeff Sessions over civil forfeiture.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Opinion columnist, USA Today, July 24, 2017

We need to reform this legal form of corruption. Again, Hawai`i is an outlier – just as we are in criminal justice reform. What is going on? Please raise your voice on issues like this, which you may think do not impact you – but once you get caught in the web, even if you are innocent, getting out of the system is not easy. This program defies “innocent until proven guilty” the constitution guarantees all citizens.

All CAP Bills Signed!

All of our bills have now been signed into law. Mahalo nui to everyone who weighed in on bills. YOUR VOICE MATTERS! Here is the list:

2017 (8)

HB 1246 – ELECTRONIC MONITORING – ACT 74

SB 718  – COMMUNITY COURT OUTREACH PROGRAM – ACT 55

HB 845 –  IDS FOR THOSE EXITING INCARCERATION/WORK FURLOUGH – ACT 56

HB 478 – DPS AG MGR. & EQUIPMENT AT WAIAWA AND KULANI  – ACT 119

HB 1135 – MAKING THE JUSTICE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE PERMANENT – ACT 77

HB 1501 – DRUG PARAPHERNALIA (VIOLATION, NOT FELONY) – ACT 72

HB 209 – TAX FAIRNESS BILL – ACT 107
$200,000 TO START LEAD PILOT PROGRAM IN HONOLULU

Tues 6/27 Please Attend – Correctional Reform Task Force Meeting

HCR 85 TASK FORCE MEETING
TUESDAY, JUNE 27 at 10:00 am
Hawai`i Supreme Court Conference Room 

This task force is working to create a roadmap for correctional reform.

Since there is NO COMMUNITY REPRESENTATION ON THE TASK FORCE (Kaneshiro was appointed by the Director of Public Safety as the “community voice” but rarely shows up) it is vital for the community to show up and voice our comments and thoughts to the task force.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend!

2017 Justice Bills: 29th Legislative Session Wrap-Up

Session ended around 6:30 pm (from 9 am) – long day on hard wooden benches. Kat ran between House and Senate. The big drama was around the rail bill (HB 1138) which eventually failed and the website has something Kat has never seen before – House CDs and Senate CDs. Both different and no agreement. The bill is DEAD. And there are multiple copies of the drafts posted. There is more interesting stuff to report – coming soon!

CAP ended the committee hearings with the passage on 3rd reading for 13 bills we worked on. We started conference with 12 bills having been assigned conferees (the Senate did not assign conferees to HB 463) and one bill (SB 603) did not get scheduled for conference.

Of the 11 bills that went to conference, 8 passed (most good or an OK start; 1 – SB 895 –  not so good).

The 3 bills that died in conference were SB 249 – Judicial Attack (we’re glad); HB 844 – Safe Places for Youth (no funding – we’re sad); and HB 1195 – Appropriations for various Houseless programs (I think at least some of the funding for most of the programs in this bill came through other measures. The $200,000 funding for the LEAD pilot program is in the DOH budget appropriation (that’s great!).

ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION
HB 1246 CD1 Criminal Offenders; Alternative Programs; Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/HB1246_CD1_.HTM         
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/CommReports/HB1246_CD1_CCR23_.htm

This bill just adds electronic monitoring as an alternative to incarceration for those on (1) Home detention, curfew or both; (2) Supervised release, graduated release, furlough, and structured educational or vocational programs; (3) Similar programs created and designated as alternative programs by the legislature or the director of public safety for inmates who do not pose significant risks to the community.

5.2.17 – PASSED FINAL READING
HOUSE:  48-0-3  Representative(s) Har, McDermott, Tupola voting no
SENATE: 21-0-4 Excused, 4 (Senator(s) Dela Cruz, Galuteria, Green, Kidani).

COMMUNITY COURT OUTREACH
SB 718 CD1    COMMUNITY COURT OUTREACH PROJECT
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/SB718_CD1_.pdf
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/CommReports/SB718_CD1_CCR99_.htm

This bill makes the project permanent subject to the availability of sufficient funds; deletes the requirement that the Judiciary enter into memoranda of agreement to specify the terms and conditions of each agency’s participation in the project; requires the prosecutor and the public defender to participate in the project; deletes the appropriation since funding is in budget; adds that the Chief Justice, as an alternative recommendation in the report to the Legislature and the Governor on the project, may recommend that the project be terminated; effective 7.1.17.

5.2.17 – PASSED FINAL READING
HOUSE:  50-0-1 Rep. Ichiyama excused
SENATE: UNANIMOUS

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

ID:
HB 845  CD1              INMATES; IDENTIFICATION CARDS; REENTRY; ($)
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/HB845_CD1_.pdf
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/CommReports/HB845_CD1_CCR24_.htm

This bill does not require the department to ensure that every person is released with proper identification. It merely says the department should inform folks of the availability of departmental assistance to obtain the person’s birth certificate, social security card, and any other relevant identification documents necessary for transition. It is the department’s responsibility to ensure that people are safely released into the community. When folks exit with nothing, what are they supposed to do? The legislature allocated $25,000 to public safety and again, there is no reporting requirement. $25,000 more to the department to play with; no accountability.

5.2.17 – PASSED FINAL READING
HOUSE:  UNANIMOUS
SENATE: UNANIMOUS

Kulani:
HB 478 CD1   KULANI, WAIAWA AGRICULTURE OPERATION; APPROPRIATION ($)
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/HB478_CD1_.pdf
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/CommReports/HB478_CD1_CCR112_.htm

This is a good bill that should sustain the agricultural programs at Kulani and Waiawa. It allocates $50,000 at each facility for an ag manager and $50,000 for farm equipment at each facility. Again, no reporting required.

5.2.17 – FINAL READING
HOUSE:   UNANIMOUS
SENATE:  UNANIMOUS

JUSTICE REINVESTMENT
HB 1135 CD1             PUBLIC SAFETY;  JUSTICE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/HB1135_CD1_.pdf
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/CommReports/HB1135_CD1_CCR33_.htm

This bill was a simple one page housekeeping measure to make the Hawai`i Justice Reinvestment Initiative permanent. It is now a 15 page bill mostly about restitution; an important subject that should be widely discussed, rather than sneaked into a bill.

5.2.17 – PASSED FINAL READING
HOUSE:   UNANIMOUS
SENATE:  UNANIMOUS

SENTENCING

Criminal Trespass:
SB 895 CD1                CRIMINAL TRESPASS
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/SB895_CD1_.pdf
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/CommReports/SB895_CD1_CCR41_.htm

This bill has been widely opposed during hearings. The state keeps trying to say that it is not a bill about sweeps of the houseless, however the bill makes it a petty misdemeanor for staying on improved state land. The only good thing we can say is that it prohibits a felony conviction. What will it take to finally convince policymakers that we need housing that our people can afford?

5.2.17 – PASSED FINAL READING
HOUSE:  44-7-0 Representative(s) Gates, LoPresti, Tokioka voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) DeCoite, Ing, Lowen, McKelvey, San Buenaventura, Thielen, Tupola voting no (7) and none excused (0).
SENATE: 20-4-1 (Galuteria excused) Aye(s) with reservations: Senator(s) Ihara, Taniguchi. Noes, 4 (Senator(s) Green, K. Kahele, Ruderman, L. Thielen). Excused, 1 (Senator(s) Galuteria).

Drug Paraphernalia:
HB 1501 CD1             DRUG PARAPHERNALIA; POSSESSION AND DELIVERY; CIVIL VIOLATIONS
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/HB1501_CD1_.pdf
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/CommReports/HB1501_CD1_CCR11_.htm

This bill reduces the sanction for the possession of drug paraphernalia from a felony to a violation with a fine up to $500 and is effective upon approval (Gov’s signature).

5.2.17 – FINAL READING
HOUSE:  42-9-0   Representative(s) Aquino, Cullen, Say, Yamane voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Choy, Har, Kong, Matsumoto, McDermott, Ohno, Oshiro, Tupola, Ward voting no (9) and none excused (0).
SENATE: UNANIMOUS

TAX CREDITS
HB 209 CD1               TAX FAIRNESS BILL
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/HB209_CD1_.pdf
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/CommReports/HB209_CD1_CCR121_.htm

Mahalo to Hawai`i Appleseed for their great organizing work on this bill. It’s only about half of what is needed, but it is real progress.  It makes permanent higher tax rates on our top earners; the Food Credit will be made permanent; and there will be a 20% non-refundable Working Family Credit/EITC for 5 years. (we have been testifying in favor of a state tax credit for about 2 decades, so this is a great start!

 5.2.17 – PASSED FINAL READING
HOUSE:  44-6-1  Representative(s) Oshiro, Tupola, Ward voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Choy, Har, Ito, Kong, Say, Tokioka voting no (6) and Representative(s) Ichiyama excused (1).
SENATE: UNANIMOUS

Final Conferences – Day 7

Conference Update
April 28, 2017

Friday was the final conference day. We were watching 3 bills – safe places program for youth – HB 844, the bill attacking the Judiciary – SB 249; and the tax fairness bill – HB 209. Then Kat sat in on a few other conferences for bills we are interested in but were too busy to testify on, such as HB 1488 about the medical marijuana program – it passed; the rail conference was interesting – they reached agreement on SB 1183. More info on our bills will be sent later.

Here’s what happened at Friday’s conference committees…

JUVENILE JUSTICE
HB 844 HD1 SD1       SAFE PLACES FOR YOUTH PILOT PGM; AT-RISK YOUTH; COORDINATOR; ($)
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/HB844_HD1_.pdf

DEAD THIS SESSION. This bill did not get funding, so it died. Advocates have tried for many years to get this started in Hawai`i…we’re getting closer, but we need to keep on pushing for more programs for our youth.

JUDICIARY
SB 249 SD2 HD1       REDUCTION IN RETIREMENT FOR JUDGES
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/SB249_HD1_.pdf

DEAD THIS SESSION. We are glad this bill died, however, since our legislature works on a biennium calendar, this bill is alive next session and the Senate Chair said they would bring it back. What a waste of time and resources when so many in our community are suffering.

TAX CREDITS

HB 209 HD1 SD1       LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLD RENTERS; EITC; TAX RATES; FOOD EXCISE TAX CR
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/bills/HB209_SD1_.pdf

PASSED! Thanks to the tremendous work of HAWAI`I APPLESEED. It’s only about half of what is needed, but it is real progress.

1) The higher tax rates on our top earners will be made permanent

2) The improvements to the Food Credit will be made permanent

3) There will be a 20% non-refundable Working Family Credit/EITC for 5 years