HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A city prosecutor known for being tough on crime is urging lawmakers to decriminalize certain petty offenses that are clogging the courts.
Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro says more serious crimes are slipping through the cracks because his deputies are too busy with misdemeanor cases, such as homeless people violating park curfews.
So far this year, police have issued 358 sit-lie citations and more than 6,000 park rules tickets. The vast majority of the park citations involved being in parks after closing hours, with 4,494 issued in the Honolulu district which includes Waikiki, Downtown and Ala Moana.
Many of those who are cited don't even show up for court.
"We do pursue it because that's our job to pursue it," explained Kaneshiro. "We issue bench warrants and as a result the court calendar gets backlogged and congested and we cannot resolve other cases that can and should be resolved by the criminal justice system."
Kaneshiro has asked the city council to let some petty violations be settled with fines sent through the mail.
He is also suggesting creating a community court that deals exclusively with homeless issues.