Bill would put property crime criminals behind bars, not probation
KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
A new plan would crack down on repeat burglars. A lawmaker wants prison time for repeat offenders but not everyone agrees it is the right solution.
Business owners in the Kailua Square are fed up. We did a story about crime near here just two weeks ago and since then more shops have been hit. They feel if you lock up the repeat offenders crimes will drop.
The Antiques and Treasures shop has some beautiful items, but has been the target of an ugly crime.
"I feel totally violated by it," said Miyhe Cortes, Antiques and Treasures Owner.
Last Saturday at just 8:00 at night a burglar broke off the door and stole a safe.
"They knocked the case down, broke some lamps on top and got the safe," said Cortes.
Next door the popular Cinnamon's Restaurant has had five attempted break-ins and once thieves made off with the whole ATM.
"For the businesses and the people themselves its traumatic. You're losing things and some of the things you can't replace," said Puna Nam, Cinnamon's Restaurant Owner and Chamber of Commerce Member.
Victims believe it's a very small amount of people doing the majority of the property crimes in Kailua.
"We call it among ourselves "Crimelua" instead of Kailua," said Cortes.
"It's not uncommon to find people or at least to hear about them, people who have been arrested 40 times before actually being convicted on this one particular charge," said State Representative Chris Lee, (D) Kailua, Waimanalo.
Kailua lawmaker Chris Lee wants to eliminate probation as an option for anyone convicted of three burglaries within five years and wants a judge to hand out a sentence up to five years behind bars.
"It's the same folks repeat offending, breaking into homes, getting caught, breaking into homes, getting caught over and over again," said Rep. Lee. "We're saying that these folks have to serve prison time. They cannot be released again."
"To immediately say we need to lock people up for a long time is a very short sided and unthoughtful approach," said Kat Brady, Community Alliance on Prisons. "Sending people to prison does not really deter crime. Prisons are breeding grounds for crime."
Brady says the Attorney General's own data shows crime is at record lows.
"Property crime is actually down since we started collecting data in 1975. It's been down almost 40 percent," said Brady.
Victims aren't buying it. They want the burglary cycle broken, mot their businesses.
There is a community meeting on this subject Thursday night at 7:00 at Kailua District Park. Among the expected panelists are a judge, prosecutor and prison personnel. The public is welcome to attend.