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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, November 10, 2005

Criminal pasts now displayed on Web

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

Criminal conviction databases available online

• eCrim.Ehawaii.gov

Free to browse, $13 to view record and print.


Click on ‘Court Connect’ link. Free to browse.

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Two new databases that allow Internet browsers to sift through Hawai'i criminal convictions and traffic citations will allow local residents to dive a little deeper into the background of their neighbors.

The search sites reveal whether an individual has been convicted of a crime in the state, from murder to moving violations.

Both sites provide increased access to conviction information previously available only by walking into the appropriate state office and filling out a paper form or sitting at a computer terminal.

While some said the sites will give residents easier access to important background information, others said they are further erosion of the limited privacy rights of convicted offenders.

"It's a sign of the times," said John Tonaki, state public defender. "We've tried to address these matters in terms of a person's privacy rights, albeit limited ones, once you've been convicted of an offense. The Internet has made people's mistakes visible to everyone. From a defendant's standpoint it might not be a popular idea, but it's always been a matter of public record and it makes things more convenient for lawyers."

The first site, eCrim.Ehawaii .gov, allows the ability to search Hawai'i criminal conviction records by name, social security number, date of birth and/or gender, according to the Hawai'i Criminal Justice Data Center, which runs the site in conjunction with the state attorney general's office.

There is no charge to browse the system, but to view results and print up a certified copy will cost $13.

The information was previously accessible through computer terminals at the Honolulu police station or at the HCJDC's King Street office. The site went online yesterday.

"It provides a service where you don't force the public to come into the police station or downtown Honolulu to our offices and stand in line," said Liane Moriyama, the data center director. "We're trying to get electronic and provide more services out in the community."

The traffic violation database, the Judiciary Information Management System, is "much-needed and long-awaited," court officials have said, and will allow judges and court staff to effectively schedule and manage cases. The system went online Monday.

It also will be used to monitor compliance with court judgments and keep track of payments.

"Traffic is a very paper-intensive process," said Corinne Watanabe, co-chair of the judiciary's executive committee on technology. "We've been trying to get a more modern case-management system for quite some time."

The new online system is important because it will allow people to check for outstanding traffic cases, ensure that information kept by the judiciary is accurate, and see if they must appear in court, officials have said. In the next 10 years, the judiciary hopes to have one integrated database available for all court record needs, Watanabe said.

While the public and local businesses now have a greater ability to find out whether acquaintances or potential employees have been convicted of a crime, a University of Hawai'i sociologist said the databases might hurt a convict's attempts to rehabilitate.

"Even if the information at the site is 'only' about convictions, there is still a problem when this policy is placed in the context of other American criminal justice policies," David Johnson said. "Taken together, those policies reflect a stunning lack of interest in helping offenders rehabilitate and reintegrate. After some reasonable period of time, shouldn't the punishment and control stop?"

Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.