County prosecutor’s office seeks public input on legislative initiatives : Big Island Now

County prosecutor’s office seeks public input on legislative initiatives : Big Island Now

The Hawai‘i County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney is laying out its legislative priorities for 2023 and it want to know what you think.

County prosecutor’s office seeks public input on legislative initiatives : Big Island Now

Throughout the past year, the office has met with community groups, neighborhood watches, community stakeholders and Big Island residents about their concerns and interests. Now the office is inviting members of the public to take its 2023 legislative initiatives survey to ensure the community’s views are properly represented, bring attention and encourage our lawmakers to address critical criminal justice system concerns and prioritize the safety and well-being of the people on Hawai‘i Island.

The survey takes into consideration crime trends and seeks input on issues such as seeking harsher penalties and accountability for domestic abuse, fentanyl possession, drug distribution resulting in serious injury or death, felons in possession of firearms, driving under the influence, encouraging the construction of a new correctional facility on Hawai‘i Island and increasing funding for substance abuse and mental health treatment providers.

The simple 13 question, yes/no answer survey includes relevant legal background information for each of the initiatives.

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The survey will also help the prosecutor’s office obtain data for the proposal of future legislative measures that address crime on the Big Island. To ensure the community’s views are properly represented, the survey’s results will be shared to serve as a guide for the Hawai‘i Island legislative delegation and the Hawai‘i County Council and mayor.

“We hope that the data we collect will assist our Hawai‘i state and county lawmakers to propose legislation that will enact positive changes within our criminal justice system and make our community a safer place,” wrote Hawai‘i County Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen in a letter announcing this year’s survey.

To take the survey, scan the QR code in the flyer image accompanying this story or click here.

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Data obtained from last year’s survey was critical in the Hawai‘i Legislature passing Act 54, which made the theft of a motor vehicle and motorcycle a first-degree theft, a Class B felony, thereby increasing the penalties associated with motor vehicle and motorcycle theft throughout the state. The measure was introduced by Big Island state Rep. Greggor Ilagan.

Data from the 2022 survey also was key in the passage of Hawai‘i County Ordinance 22-36, which was introduced by Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz. The ordinance amends Chapter 4 of Hawai‘i County Code to establish harsher penalties, including felony offenses, for dog owners in connection with dog attacks that result in serious or substantial bodily injury or death.

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