Category Archives: Crime

New Report: Reduce crime by investing in economic justice and policing

Don’t miss this story from the Washington Post, which reports the conclusions of a new study on criminal justice reform by the White House Council on Economic Advisors (“Obama’s advisers just revealed an unconventional solution to mass incarceration“).

The report compares approaches to reducing the nation’s crime rate, and concludes that indirect solutions will result in greater crime reduction than simply spending more on prisons and incarceration.

According the Post:

They forecast that hiking the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $12 would reduce crime by 3 percent to 5 percent, as fewer people would be forced to turn to illegal activity to make ends meet.

That’s more than the 1 to 4 percent reduction projected to result from a $10 billion increase in spending on prisons.

Here’s another tidbit from the Post story:

The most effective way to reduce crime would be to spend more money on policing, the report projects. Research consistently shows that departments with more manpower and technology do a better job of protecting the public, and the United States has 35 percent fewer officers relative to the population than do other countries on average.

I’ve never seen that statistic before, and will have to check the report itself for additional information.

If it’s true, then we have substantially fewer police officers, but have far more people in prison than other countries.

In any case, the report itself can be found here.

Click here to view the highlights of the report in what appears to be a presentation about the report by the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors.

UH Manoa among campuses hit by anti-Semitic flyers

The University of Hawaii at Manoa was among the college campuses across the country where anti-Semitic flyers were printing out in department offices.

A copy of the flyer was found after printing out from a networked office printer in the UH-Manoa Women’s Studies Department Thursday morning, It was reported to campus officials, and campus IT staff were trying to trace its origin through the IP address recorded by the printer.

According to published accounts, the flyers campus networks had apparently been hacked, allowing the unsolicited printing.

According to the website, MassLive.com:

The flyers turned out in printers at Smith College in Northampton, Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, as well as Northeastern University in Boston, DePaul University in Chicago, Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, and the University of Southern California, said Robert Trestan, executive director of the New England Anti-Defamation League.

The flyers urged people to “join us in the struggle for global white supremacy.”

They include a link to a neo-Nazi website featuring a headline, “Total Fascism”.

Gabbard ties to cult in background as fatal boating accident case goes to prosecutors

I’m wondering how long it will take the mainstream media to acknowledge the widely available information linking the operator of the boat involved in a fatal accident off Kailua Beach to a well-known cult, and its association with Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

It’s obviously a politically sensitive issue, and everybody is being as careful as possible as they report on the incident.

There were a couple of important news stories yesterday, KHON reported that the accident case had finally been turned over to city prosecutors by the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The report questioned the delay, and asked whether DLNR staff are trained to handle this kind of criminal investigation. The story also questioned whether the boat involved in the incident had been impounded or evidence gathered from it after the incident.

Other online accounts have reported the boat was not impounded and has been spotted and photographed in Kailua.

KHON identified the boat’s operator and registered owner, Sai Hansen, but did not pursue the link to the Science of Identity Foundation, which is the legal entity behind the cult headed by Chris Butler, known as Jagad Guru.

Hawaii News Now reported prosecutors are considering negligent homicide charges against Hansen.

HNN also reported that Hansen has a history of complaints regarding dangerous operations of the boat in the same area.

“I’ve received reports, several reports, of the activities of an individual down there with an orange zodiac racing up and down the waters,” said Heen.

“The people in Kailua that I have heard from are crying out for something to be done to curb the activities of this one individual.”

Heen’s surfacing in the case could become significant. Heen is a former federal judge and former chair of the Democratic Party in Hawaii.

Last year, Civil Beat did a good job of running down the “rumors” of Gabbard’s ties to the Butler cult (“Tulsi Gabbard Still Dogged By Krishna Cult Rumors“). It’s a good summary of what’s publicly known.

At that time, Gabbard dodged questions about her ties to the Butler group.

The handling of the case against Sai Hansen shifts the focus from simply whether or not Congresswoman Gabbard was ever a member of the cult, to whether her ties to the group resulted in special treatment by authorities.

Hawaii News Now quoted Walter Heen:

“I am relieved that the prosecutor is taking it over. There has been some rumors, there have been some rumors for years that the DLNR has gone easy on regulating activities down there in general,” said former state appellate court judge Walter Heen, who is Shim’s uncle.

Whether he’s referring to DLNR going light on activities associated with the cult, or to commercial activities on Kailua Beach, isn’t clear.

But it’s sounding more like the questions need to be asked.

Looking back at the roots of Hawaii’s prison crisis

My Civil Beat column this week tries to explain the modern history of Hawaii’s prison system, which began in the 1960s and 1970s as a plan to create a modern and humane way to deal with crime (“Ian Lind: Falling Short Again On Prisons“).

It’s a sad story of bureaucratic inertia, administrative infighting, and political opportunism destroying what was seen at the time as a remarkably innovative plan to recreate and modernize the state’s prison system.

I’ve gotten just one comment so far on the column, an email from an old friend who has spent his life dealing with prison issues. Russ Immarigeon wrote:

I just read your recent column about prison-building plans in Hawaii. What a terrific column! Man, it’s so rare to hear someone with such a fine sense of the history of failure of prison-building proposals. Not only that, I think you hit the target on why past plans failed and future plans are likely to fail.

Here are the first few paragraphs of the Civil Beat column.

Forty years ago, Hawaii tried to re-envision and reform the state’s old and obsolete prison system. The aim: to create a prison system second to none.

The magazine of the American Correctional Association, an organization of prison professionals, reported that Hawaii’s new prisons were expected to be “the most modern, the most humane and the most sophisticated anywhere.”

But even as the new buildings were going up, the widely hailed vision was being undermined by bureaucratic inertia and infighting, and by the Legislature’s failure to fund key parts of the system.

And with a surge in crime brought about, in part, by the unprecedented size of the the baby boom generation, we saw the arrival of a new political era that leveraged the fear of crime into a potent campaign issue, first nationally and then locally.

Instead of leading the nation, Hawaii’s new prison system was overcrowded on the day it opened. The state has spent much of the past several decades struggling with chronic overcrowding and administrative woes, continuing allegations of civil rights violations, lawsuits, and repeated periods of direct federal supervision of several of its facilities.

In the process, the explosive growth of the prison population has become a huge drain on the state’s budget, pulling money away from desperate needs in education, health care, family services, and on and on.

This history is rather depressing.

But the current reality is even more depressing.

The prisons have become a sacred cow. The public knows little about what goes on in them because they have become closed institutions and because most of us don’t want to know.

We’ve lost the understanding that these aren’t simply “criminals”, but are sons, brothers, uncles, and friends who have gotten into trouble and need a way out.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there was more community concern about what went on in our prisons and jails. There were community groups with considerable social and political clout that were actively involved in prison issues. Things didn’t go totally unnoticed.

Today it seems quite different. The prison and jails are far more isolated from daily life of the rest of the public. Weak administration allows chronic conditions to continue (poor health care for prisoners, excessive overtime and favoritism among guards, inability to staff family visits, etc, etc).

And now, with preciously little attention to the deeper issues, Governor Ige is pressing for approval to commit half a billion dollars to moving the Oahu Correctional Center so that developers can access the current site in Kalihi, and other private interests can profit on constructing a new facility. All with little, if any, public discussion of why we’re doing this and, far more importantly, where this is taking us.

I hope that some of you have access to CB and can check out the column.

Visitors still being arrested for enjoying moonlight on Waikiki Beach

Back on May 30, 2015, I commented on the stupidity of arresting tourists for being on Waikiki Beach at night (“Here we go again with the unintended consequences“).

That post, in turn, quoted from a Hawaii News Now story:

The city’s crackdown on homelessness in Waikiki — meant to make things nicer for tourists, is causing some visitors big legal problems.

In order to keep the homeless from settling in overnight, the city began closing popular beachfront parks in Waikiki at midnight. A violation brings a criminal citation.

According to the City Prosecutors Office 20 percent of those citations, one in five, is going to visitors, for whom the criminal charge and its mandatory court appearance can be more than just an inconvenience.

Apparently the arrests of tourists trying to enjoy the beach they have paid so much to vacation on, the same beach that our visitor industry packages and sells with such effectiveness, have not ended.

I received an email this week from a woman who vacationed here in December. I think she and her husband are from Canada.

I came across an article you wrote on May 30th about Tourists being slammed with criminal accusations for sitting in certain sections of the beach in Waikiki. On December 15th, my husband and I became 2 of those Tourists.

Not only is this of the most insulting nature, it sounds like it will make us criminals. We cannot attend our court date, as we had to return to Canada. To work. And feed our 3 children.

I was curious to see if, as a Resident of Hawai, you had heard more on the subject and whether there may be a class-action lawsuit going on. It sounds like we are far from the only ones who got trapped in this net. The legal fees will set us back quite a bit to *try* and get the charges dropped.

I was wondering also if you may have resources for us to refer to. I have been unable to reach anyone at the court house to rearrange our court date.

This is beyond silly!

I can’t agree more.

Is there a terrible threat to public order when visitors stroll out of their hotels into the moonlight to enjoy a balmy evening on Waikiki Beach!

Of course not.

As far as I know, the city’s policy remains unchanged, and the various visitor industry associations haven’t provided a “fix” so that tourists can avoid suddenly having criminal records. Their crime: Enjoying their Hawaii vacations!

So I don’t have anything encouraging to report back to this couple.

What should I tell them?