BY JIM DOOLEY – Another probationer has been charged with serious new offenses while enrolled in a state court program acclaimed for its low recidivism rates.
Dewitt L. Long, 45, is accused of sexually assaulting two underage girls in separate attacks this month and last year, while he was enrolled in the highly-praised HOPE probation program.
Long, who has a lengthy criminal record here and in California, allegedly kidnapped and raped a 15-year-old girl May 9, 2011 and sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl Sunday at a home in Ewa Beach, according to court records.
He is being held on $500,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing in court Friday.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Hawk, who has represented Long in previous criminal cases, said Long “hasn’t been in trouble for quite some time” after “he went through a rough spot” some 10 years ago.
Hawk was Long’s court-appointed lawyer in his most recent criminal cases, but said he didn’t know if he would be appointed to represent him in the sex assault cases.
According to court files, Long was convicted in a jury trial in 2000 of theft and drug possession and sentenced to five years of probation by Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto.
After repeatedly violating standard probation – his supervisor said Long was arrested 14 times for contempt of court, five times for misdemeanor drug charges and three times for disorderly conduct – Long was resentenced by Sakamoto to another five-year probation term in 2004.
Sakamoto transferred Long to HOPE probation in 2007. The program – HOPE stands for Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement – combines close supervision of offenders with immediate, brief jail terms for violations.
The program was begun and is largely controlled by another Circuit Judge, Steven Alm, who has built it into hugely successful operation that has been emulated in other jurisdictions around the country.
While still under HOPE in the 1999 case, Long was charged in 2006 with selling two $20 rocks of cocaine to undercover police officers in the Chinatown area of Honolulu. He was eventually convicted of a cocaine possession charge.
There is no indication in court files that Long’s 2006 charges led to revocation of his HOPE probation in the 1999 case.
He was sentenced to straight probation in the 2006 case and then was transferred to Alm’s HOPE calendar in 2010.
According to court papers filed by Hawk in 2008, Long suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and was taking the drugs seroquel and lexapro to control the illness.
While on his second HOPE probation term, Long allegedly raped the 15-year-old victim in May of last year.
According to court records, the girl accepted a ride from Long, who called himself “Z,” at Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Long prevented her from leaving the vehicle, took her to an airport-area hotel and sexually assaulted her there, according to police.
Details of the more recent assault were unavailable.
Court records show that Long was convicted of felony drug and firearms offenses in California before coming to Hawaii in the 1990’s.
He has been treated at least twice for drug addiction at the U.S. Vets facility in Kalaeloa.
Long has been arrested nearly 100 times since moving to Hawaii and has used dozens of aliases, records show. Traffic court records list nearly 100 past charges against him.
Despite HOPE’s success in reducing repeat offenses by probationers, there have been notable washouts from the program.
Last month, Chad Duran, 23, was accused of murdering a Waianae neighbor while serving a HOPE probation sentence.
HOPE probationer Aaron Susa murdered tourist Bryanna Antone on the beach in Waikiki in 2009 less than a day after he completed a HOPE-mandated stay in jail.
Probationer Joseph Vaimili was convicted last year of kidnapping, promotion of prostitution and terroristic threatening offenses he committed while on HOPE probation for drug crimes.
Alm has defended HOPE in the wake of previous news stories about what he called “a few high profile cases” of HOPE failures.
He called the stories “sensationalistic type of journalism (that) does a disservice to our citizens.” http://www.hawaiireporter.com/hope-probation-works-why-choosing-research-and-facts-over-sensationalism-and-anecdotes-make-for-better-criminal-justice-policy/123