POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
In recent years there have been over 80 cases of officers suspended or discharged for unwarranted assault, and over 100 cases of officers filing fraudulent reports or covering up for other officers, but these records have been kept secret. We owe it to our good cops to make their dangerous jobs easier by weeding out the bad.
So, Chris led negotiations and passed a bill to standardize use of force procedures and create transparency to hold bad officers accountable by publicly disclosing misconduct when an officer is suspended or discharged, just like officers in most other states whose names and violations are publicly disclosed. It also enables officers’ certifications to be revoked for misconduct.
In 2018 it was found that law enforcement was taking advantage of outdated civil asset forfeiture laws to seize millions in property and cash from innocent Hawaii residents without ever charging them with a crime, and then using that money to fund trips and pay their own staff. Chris built support and negotiated the passage of a bill to end the practice and require law enforcement to return people’s property unless they are convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed the bill.
Hawaii’s jails are beyond capacity, yet about half of the people currently locked up haven’t been convicted of crimes and are disproportionately Native Hawaiian. Instead of rehabilitating the incarcerated, Hawaii’s archaic approach to criminal justice has been making crime worse by mixing low level offenders with dangerous criminals, turning truants into gang members, and people arrested for crimes of poverty and homelessness into violent felons. We know this system isn’t working because our recidivism rate is 60%, meaning over half of people released from jail will return within three years.
Working together with Republicans and Democrats on this issue, Chris helped lead the effort to pass bipartisan criminal justice reforms that will better rehabilitate offenders, reduce recidivism, save money for taxpayers, and most of all reduce crime.
NEXT ISSUE: Prioritizing Education and Fixing our Schools