Posted on: Sunday, February 18, 2001
Letters to the Editor
'Prison time-off bill may prevent repeat offenses
Your position on the "Prison Time-Off Bill" is disingenuous and evidence of a failure to conduct a cursory investigation into the merits or history of the bill.
In actuality, it would re-establish HRS 353-39 (evolved from C. 165 5.1 enacted by the 1915 Legislature), which provided inmates: "Whose record shows continued good behavior, meritorious conduct . . . may be allowed a deduction of 10 days per month."
This provision worked hand-in-hand with the HPAs discretion to set minimum terms for over 52 years.
Da Guv, in his state address, promised to expand work furlough, substance abuse, educational and vocational rehabilitations programs; its hard to mess up locked up at Halawa, which is why many re-offend - they dont learn the skills to deal with real-world stresses and disappointments.
Work furlough should be a majority of a drug-offense and substance-abuse-caused offenders sentence, but sentences more than 48 months from parole arent eligible for minimum/community facilities - many dont get in until less than one year to parole or go straight onto parole whose support, structure and supervision is a fraction of that at a furlough facility.
Earned good-time would further people into the programs and training most likely to prevent them from re-offending.
Legal sexual consent age needs to be raised
There are, in my view, at least three strong arguments in favor of raising the age of consent to bar sex between adults and children that were not addressed in your recent piece (Focus, Feb. 11).
First, while there are laws on the books prohibiting all nonconsensual sexual contact, that does not mean that all such acts are reported, reported as nonconsensual, prosecuted or even prosecutable. Lack of consent in sexual abuse cases can be very difficult to prove.
Raising the age of consent would allow prosecution and conviction in some cases that very likely involve a lack of consent, but in which that lack of consent may be impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
It would allow some measure of justice to victims of crime where there may now be none.
Second, raising the age of consent would deter some adults from having sex with children. Although such a change in the law would clearly not deter all such conduct, it would make some adults think twice, and if that protected even a few children, the change would be justified.
Third, raising the age of consent would make the statement that we are a society that will not tolerate sex between adults and children; and 14- and 15-year-olds are children. Our laws reflect the type of society we are, and are supposed to embody, among other things, shared views of right and wrong.
The type of conduct raising the age of consent would criminalize - sex between adults and children - is wrong, and no convoluted notions of political correctness should cause us as a society to say otherwise.
Mark J. Bennett
We need to protect Isles minors from exploitation
The law in Hawai'i allowing a 35-year-old person to have sex with a 14-year-old minor needs to be changed. Hawai'is legal age of sexual consent is 14, one of the lowest ages in the country. We need to protect Hawai'is minors from this adult sexual exploitation and inform the state Legislature the age of sexual consent must be raised.
It disgusts me to know that adult male perpetrators who lure girls into the commercial sex industry are fully aware of their legal limits and know if the girl is 14 and older, theyre completely in the clear. I dont understand how its a class A felony in Hawai'i to have sexual relations with a 13-year-old minor and not illegal at all to have sexual relations with a 14-year-old minor.
At the age of 14, is a young girl mature and responsible enough to make that kind of decision?
Gov. Ben Cayetano takes an interesting stand on this issue.
He is opposed to raising the age and states, "Its hard these days to tell if a girl is 14, 15 or 16."
I disagree and as a young, candid female, I think it doesnt matter if you cant tell what age we are. What matters the most is the minors of age 14, 15 or 16 who are being exploited.
This issue is important and as a community, we need to stand up for what we believe in. The age of sexual consent needs to be raised to at least 16. We the people can make a difference and if you feel just as strongly on this subject as I do, please contact your legislators to voice you opinions.
Stores closings disprove economic turnaround
Arakawas is no more. Safeway closed a store in Waipahu. Shirokiya is closing its Pearlridge store when the lease expires at the end of March. And Liberty House isnt out of the woods yet. Wheres that economic turnaround Ive been hearing so much about? London summers last longer.
Presidential election court decision revisited
It was interesting to learn that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg openly questioned "the wisdom of the courts decision to intervene" in the selection of George W. Bush for president in her recent Melbourne, Australia, law school speech.
Quite a contrast to Justice Antonin Scalias clever management of our local ACLU and media, which allowed him to give the illusion of accessibility without a single question on the Supreme Court Fives shocking anti-state rights ruling.
It appears that time ran out in the justices debate with the gracious ACLU National President Nadine Strossen. How convenient.
ACLU board member
Felix consent decree needs accountability
I would like to set the record straight on my position on the Felix v. Cayetano consent decree. Your Feb. 7 editorial failed to state the underlying reason why I question the need for emergency funding for the Felix consent decree.
My main concern has and always will be the welfare of Hawai'is special-needs children. Unfortunately, as the state auditor has reported, the proper implementation of a Felix solution has failed largely on two counts:
1) The Felix class student is not properly defined, and there is no assurance that appropriate services are being provided to Felix class children or that these services result in improved school performance.
In addition, approximately 12,000 children have been classified as Felix students, but the departments of Education and Health do not have central databases to track services and student progress. This lack of real data makes me question whether more money will truly serve these kids better.
2) Felix-related expenditures and services are inconsistently reported. Costs associated with Felix programs and administrative expenses are mixed with costs for other Department of Education and Department of Health programs.
The result is that these departments are unable to properly disclose to the governor, the Legislature and the public the true costs of implementing the Felix solution.
All of this points to an appalling lack of accountability. It is a matter of grave concern to me and my colleagues in the Legislature that the departments of Education and Health have not approached their stewardship over Felix in a strategic, business-like orientation with due regard for the states limited resources.
The worst thing about this is that the ones who suffer the most are the very ones in need of help - the special-needs children.
Calvin K.Y. Say
Speaker, House of Representatives
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