There will be a rally today at noon at the state Capitol in support of passing a three-strikes law for Hawaii, much like that established in California that is credited for helping reduce crime in that state by 40 percent.
The rally, which is open to the public, is being organized by state House and Senate Republican lawmakers, and will be attended by several of Hawaii’s law enforcement officials, including the brother of recently slain undercover police officer Glen Gaspar.
Gaspar was shot point blank last month in a Kapolei ice cream shop by a Hawaii man he was trying to arrest who had been previously arrested 52 times, and had 14 felony convictions. Gaspar’s brother will speak on the need to pass the legislation.
Being billed as the key to the “war on crime,” the three-strikes law has been introduced several times in previous legislative sessions, discrediting opponents’ arguments that Republicans and law enforcement are using an emotional incident like the death of Gaspar to pass new legislation.
The intent of the legislation, though supported by the governor, the U.S. attorney, the city prosecutor, the state attorney general and the majority of law enforcement personnel in Hawaii, has not been supported by the extremely liberal Democrat majority in the Legislature that has insisted the crime problem in Hawaii needs further study.
Because there is no three-strikes legislation currently alive in the 38th day of the 60-day session, Republicans in the House, who constitute 15 of 51 members, and Republicans in the Senate, 5 of 25 members, will move to amend current legislation to include a three-strikes law much like that in California and 25 other American states.
The three-strikes law gives prosecutors an option to prosecute a person with multiple past convictions, and request a life-sentence for that criminal.
The Hawaii legislation proposed is more limited than the law that is now legal in California, which was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, because Hawaii’s legislation must have involved three felonies, rather than misdemeanors, and there must have been at least one incident of violence against the victim, for the option to be available.
Those rallying for the law say 60 percent of Hawaii’s crimes are committed by the same handful of people. But because of loopholes in the state law, a shortage of prison space, liberal judges, and a lack of coordination between local and federal law enforcement, those criminals are allowed to walk free.