County mayors to governor: Veto measure that would do away with bail for many non-violent offenders

The proposal would allow certain non-violent offenders to be released from custody without having to post bail.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 3:36 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 7, 2022 at 8:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - All four county mayors are gathering Wednesday to urge the governor to veto a measure that would allow non-violent offenders to be released from custody without having to post bail.

Over the last several weeks, the proposal has generated a significant amount of public discussion and opposition.

House Judiciary Vice Chair Scot Matayoshi introduced the bill, but dropped support for it after its passage ― when law enforcement agencies that didn’t weigh in during the legislative session came out to oppose it.

“Given the opposition to the bill, I myself changed my mind and requested that the governor veto the bill,” Matayoshi said.

“I wish the county mayors had come out before during the legislative process to oppose the bill and to bring these concerns to light, at which time we could have changed the bill. But, it’s better late than never and I’m glad they’re doing it.”

Matayoshi said the bill was an attempt to prevent harmless people from being stuck in jail for lack of bail money.

But critics called it a “get out of jail free card” that comes as Hawaii grapples with a worrisome spike in crime.

“We felt this was a piece of legislation that never represented the community’s interest and should never even have been voted on,” said State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers Vice President Steve Keough, in a May interview.

While admitting the bill was too broad, Matayoshi says many in the public overlooked provisions to protect public safety.

If the governor decides to veto the measure, then a future draft needs to be more specific and lawmakers will need to be more active in briefing the public, onlookers said. “I think the next iteration of bail reform should be inclusive rather than exclusive, meaning we should specify exactly what crimes, which misdemeanors, which felony C’s it’ll apply to,” Matayoshi said.

At this time, it’s unknown if Gov. David Ige will veto the measure.

However, if another version needs to be introduced, Matayoshi hopes both supporters and detractors make their voices heard.

“We have public hearings for exactly this reason, for people to submit public testimony in opposition to bills,” Matayoshi said.

“If people don’t submit testimony on the bills during the public hearing process, I’m glad they’re being vocal now, but next time, hopefully they participate in the process.”

The governor has until June 25 to make a decision.

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