Watch the courts
Where else, besides India and countries with corrupt legal systems, does a person convicted of kidnapping, rape and robbery receive a sentence of only six months of jail time, to be served at their convenience?
The correct answer is right here in “paradise,” Hawaii Island. We deserve a higher standard of law and order to be handed down by our prosecutors and courts, and the only way that we can achieve that is through the bright light of public awareness and ongoing scrutiny of the local courts’ weak sentences and low bails and prosecutors’ plea bargains.
As a call to action, I’m urging the Hawaii Tribune-Herald to cover the actions and inaction of the prosecutors and the decisions of our local judges with a weekly “Judicial Score Card.” This would be a simple summary of the following details: crime description; bail and the judge who issued the bail; prosecutor; maximum allowed sentence; the plea bargain (if any); conviction description; sentence and the judge who issued the sentence; special circumstances of the sentence, such as the luxury of serving the sentence at their convenience on weekends; and, if possible, include the time duration between committing the crime, the arrest, prosecution and sentencing.
This is all public information, and publishing it in such a simple format will send a clear message to the courts that we are serious about our demands for higher legal standards. With this summary, it will become apparent who is retired in place, who coddles the violent criminals, and who protects the public.
It will become apparent which laws need to be changed to ensure that maximum sentences deter crime. It is already apparent that the legal system cannot fix nor police itself without external pressure from the public. By making this information widely known on a weekly basis in your newspaper, you will be more effective at protecting the public than our courts.
It takes diligent prosecutors who will not accept plea bargains and who are willing to go to trial to prosecute all violent crimes and all repeat offenders, and it takes judges who establish significant bails and issue rigorous sentences. Only the federal courts seem to take justice seriously. With a recent six-month sentence for kidnapping and rape, it is clear that the local courts do not serve the law-abiding public.
We must hold the courts to a higher standard of law and order.