HONOLULU (KHON2) — There are more calls for the governor to veto the bail reform bill that was passed by state lawmakers.
Some said if the governor does not veto the bill, there will be unintended consequences that could lead to more harm for crime victims. Among those against the reform bill is Honolulu’s mayor.
Those who are against the bail reform proposal said this is the wrong time to change the law. In part, because we’re already seeing a spike in violent and nonviolent crimes, and the courts are still dealing with a backlog of cases from the pandemic.
The bill now awaiting the governor’s approval calls for those arrested for nonviolent crimes to be released until their court hearing, without having to pay bail. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says he plans to ask the governor to veto the bill.
“At the end of the day this is not a good piece of legislation in any shape or form,” said Blangiardi. “I don’t care how anybody wants to rationalize it. It takes a lot to get arrested. If you get arrested, you don’t simply sit there and go ‘Oh I’m sorry.’ Get out on your own recognizance. That’s not how it works.”
The proposal applies to Class C felony cases like Aggravated Harassment by Stalking and Identity Theft which other critics say can be devastating to victims if the suspect is released.
“Victims of these crimes are not going to want to see the perpetrator be released without bail because they’re gonna be greatly affected by these crimes despite the fact that it’s not violent,” said Megan Kau, a defense attorney.
“Everybody who lives here and anybody who visits here especially shouldn’t be considered to be vulnerable to people who think they can go out and do whatever they want,” said Blangiardi. “They’re going to get off without it. This is wrong and we’re not gonna let it happen in Honolulu,”
Those in favor of the bill said it’s unfair to keep suspects locked up because they can’t afford to pay bail when they’re still innocent until proven guilty. The change will help ease the overcrowding in jails which will save the state money.
New York passed a similar law that went in effect two years ago. The crime rate spiked after that but officials there said it’s not because of bail reform.
“A lot of these spikes in crime have been violent crimes, and that’s not what’s being changed by these bail reform laws. These are really mostly focusing on misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes,” said Joanna Weill, principal research associate at New York’s Center for Court Innovation.
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The governor has until June 27 to sign the bill or put it on the intent to veto list.