DAY 1 – THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 2012
SB68 SD1 HD1 Sentencing; Drug Offenses; Mandatory Minimums
Allows judges discretion in setting incarceration terms when sentencing drug offenders in certain class B and class C felony. Excludes certain offenses cases. (SB68 HD1)
As you know, CAP did a full court press to have the Senate agree with the House amendments so it wouldn’t have to go to conference. Therefore, I was disappointed when it was announced last yesterday afternoon that that a conference committee was scheduled for today. Last night I dashed off this email to all conferees.
At today’s conference, Chair Hee said that the Senate would agree with the House amendments. Then his staffer whispered something to him and he said that the Senate’s agreements would be pending the legal check by the Senate. Chair Rhoads said that the House did a legal check on the bill. They will re-convene on Monday, April 22nd at 1 pm in Room 325, and I expect the Senate will agree (but anything can happen at the big square building).
SB 68 is by no means a perfect bill, however, it is the first time we have been able to talk about judicial discretion. Law enforcement basically got everything they wanted EXCEPT for killing the bill. The mandatory sentence for a Class B drug felony is 10 years and this bill gives the court some discretion to sentence between 5-10 years; the Class C mandatory sentence is 5 years and this bill gives the court some discretion to sentence between 1 – 5 years. This is definitely not our dream bill. We have been working to reduce or eliminate mandatory sentencing for a decade or more. This is the furthest we have ever gotten. It’s a toe in the water and we will continue to work on bringing common sense to sentencing.
The mood around the US is definitely changing against mandatory sentencing, yet Hawai`i’s legislature is still so punitive and remains a real outlier on sentencing. We have plenty of work to do.
If the bill is agreed upon Monday, we have to start working on the Governor. I have already been talking with his staff and giving them information about the bill. We know that the AG and law enforcement will be encouraging him to veto the bill, so we will have to work hard to get him to sign it or have it become law without his signature.
The other conference today was on HB 622 – the Media Shield bill that is really screwed up. I didn’t attend this conference and see that it is also scheduled for 1pm on Monday.
I’ll be giving daily conference reports on the bills we are following.
Kat Brady, Coordinator
It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.