HONOLUJLU (KHON2) — The rash of violent crimes on Oahu is raising concerns for many residents. Among them Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm, who says there are three main issues that are contributing to the dangerous trend.
Shootings and other violent incidents have dominated the news lately, and it’s getting the attention of Honolulu’s prosecuting attorney Steve Alm.
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“We’re taking this really seriously,” he said. “There have been a whole bunch of violent crimes, shootings and the like in the last several weeks.”
Alm said drugs, mental health issues, and illegal game rooms are the main contributors. As far as the drug of choice, it’s still crystal meth. This is a problem that never really went away.
“There’s no question that’s part of it,” said Alm. “I think it’s just a lot of people engaged in criminal activity are meth smokers as well.”
Drug users in need of help have also been on the rise. Officials at Habilitat said they’ve seen a 25% increase.
Executive Director Jeff Nash said the increase is fueled by the lockdown during the pandemic.
“Being shut down, locked down, not a lot of activities has played havoc on people’s mental health,” he said. “Some people deal with it some ways some people often turn to substances.”
Nash added that people on probation weren’t being monitored because the courts weren’t fully functioning.
“They weren’t being checked up as often because it was kind of impossible to do so and things kind of went south really quick,” said Nash.
Alm says there are more programs now that can force people to get help for mental issues and drug use if they’re arrested for a felony.
“If they get arrested for drug possession, we now will try to work with them and use the leverage of the criminal justice system to help them get on their feet, start thinking clearly and getting into treatment,” said Alm. “Not all will succeed but many will.”
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As for illegal gaming, tougher penalties being considered by state lawmakers would make it a felony for those who work in them. Alm says that should help.