Crimes near Hawaii schools would get stiff punishment - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Crimes near Hawaii schools would get stiff punishment under proposed new law

Darren Weaver Darren Weaver
Rep. John Mizuno Rep. John Mizuno
Rep. Kymberly Marcos Pine Rep. Kymberly Marcos Pine

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

Kalihi (HawaiiNewsNow) - One day before the legislature convenes there's a bill aiming to punish certain criminals if the crime they committed was near a school, public park or child care center. It's not only to be tough on crime but also to help students feel safe.

The alley where Iris Rodrigues-Kaikana's nude body was found in August is right across the street from Farrington High School. Her death has sparked the new legislation.

"When you walk past there, nothing is there, but to think about it, a body was there one day and it's scary and these are just kids," said Ivy Torres, a junior at Farrington High School.

"The fact that it happened over there all the kids are talking about it and they're seeing it," said Darren Weaver, who is Rodrigues-Kaikana's cousin. He is also an education assistant in special education at Farrington.

To have a loved one killed by the place he loves offended him.

"Personally I've been here almost my whole life at this school. I graduated from here I worked here, I coached here my whole life and to have something happen so close to campus, I was upset," said Weaver.

This is why he is now working with both democrat and republican lawmakers to introduce a bill that says anyone convicted of a violent crime within 750 feet or two and a half football fields from any school, park or child care center would automatically face the maximum sentence possible.

"Automatically enhanced penalties, even if the person has an outstanding lawyer he or she can't get out of that," said State Rep. John Mizuno, (D) Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley.

"We want to send a very strong message that we are going to make this a protected place for all people," said State Rep. Kymberly Marcos Pine, (R) Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Puuloa. "Obviously we're not doing enough as leaders to make sure those students feel safe and hopefully this halo bill will send a strong message to not just the criminals but to students as well that lawmakers are finally going to start stepping it up and protect them."

There are already some concerns with the language of the bill. What if two students get into a fight on campus, are they now automatically going to get the maximum jail time for assault?

"We actually have to fix the language. What will happen is, and that's what the police were concerned about, you have students, and sometimes they'll play around and push another student. Is that considered a violent crime? We have to be very targeted in this bill," said Rep. Mizuno.

And if passed would criminals even pay attention?

"I think for some it may act as a deterrent, for others you are correct it may not even faze them unfortunately," said Rep. Mizuno.

Rep. Mizuno plans to change the language to just include murder in the first and second degree and rape during the first legislative hearing.

If the law were in effect the man accused in Rodrigues-Kaikana's case would get life without parole if convicted.

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