Mandatory minimum law on property crime takes effect

Mandatory minimum law on property crime takes effect

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly every business in the Kailua Square building has been broken into. There have been 35 break-ins or thefts within a half mile of there in the last month and a dozen in just the last week.

The belief is a small group does most of the crime so lock them up and crimes will drop.

"We haven't felt safe since it happened," said Chris Tarvyd, Crepes No Ka Oi Owner and Kailua resident.

A thief came into Chris Tarvyd's family home and stole his keys and his car. The culprit had multiple other offenses so Tarvyd loves the mandatory minimum of a year in prison for repeat offenders.

"I think it's great. It should be more. I'm all for people getting a second chance but second third fourth chances," said Tarvyd.

Today Governor Neil Abercrombie signed a bill into law that says anyone convicted of three property crimes within five years will have to spend at least a year in prison even if it's three nonviolent misdemeanors.

"This sends a strong message the state is serious. We are going to give people chances to rehabilitate themselves but if people are going to continue to commit crime three six eight times then there are going to be consequences," said State Representative Chris Lee, (D) Kailua, Waimanalo.

"They're simply tying the judge's hands and what usually happens when the judge's hands are tied is they're not able to give leniency or compassion in the cases that need it," said Victor Bakke, Attorney.

Defense attorneys don't like the law.

"Three minor shoplifting charges will get you an open prison term with a mandatory minimum of one year under this new law," said Bakke.

It could bring other issues. The court system is already backed up and prisons are crowded.

"Any law with a mandatory prison term could add to the overcrowding. We are required by law to accept everyone sentenced by the courts," said Toni Schwartz, Hawaii Department of Public Safety Public Information Officer.

"We can't be afraid of more crowded jails. We have to be sure the judicial system is given the resources given the manning to function correctly and do its job," said Tarvyd.

The new mandatory minimum law takes effect immediately. Fixing the prison overcrowding will take time.

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