Tag Archives: prostitution

Punishment in Hawaii – Laws and Trends

Punishment in Hawaii - Laws and Trends
  
“We can and should do better. But “doing better” doesn’t mean simply focusing on social services and systemic reforms and ignoring the need for punishment. It means using punishment intelligently, which means using it as sparingly as possible but also as much as necessary.”

Punishment in Hawaii

Punishment in Hawaii is heading the wrong direction, is an opinion I’ve long maintained. So when I woke up today to an article talking in depth about punishments that largely mirror my own views I was excited. Everyone I know in the system who takes time to talk to criminal defendants comes to one conclusion early on: To a person in prison, there’s not much difference between ten years and twenty years. It is all unforeseeable time to them. Quite frankly many of them are surprised to live as long as they have. When you grow up surrounded by gang members, prison is simply a stop on the road to expected early death.

So why do we insist on keeping our children in prisons until they become our fathers? Grandfathers?

No one is denying crime exists. Or that real crime deserves real corrective punishment. No one disagrees that when other people on our island hurt or steal or trespass against us they need to be taught, or re-taught, that such a thing is not allowed. Whether by fine, by community service, through classes and counseling, or through incarceration, talking softly only works when someone is carrying a big stick. A few days in the judicial system and you realize talking loud never works.

`“Viewed from the perspective of deterrence, long prison terms are a bad bargain: The last 15 years of a 20-year prison sentence start five years from its beginning, a period distant enough to be beyond the planning horizon of the typical armed robber. And those long prison terms are no better viewed from the perspective of incapacitation—the purely mechanical effect of preventing crime by keeping the criminals locked up… Thanks to “three strikes” laws and absurdly long terms for drug dealing, the average prisoner is now in his (or, much more rarely, her) mid-30s while the average new crime is committed by someone in his early 20s. That’s a very costly mismatch.”

Inherent Worth in the Criminal

The first thing we have to agree upon is that there is some inherent worth to society of these incarcerated people. Let’s be very clear, we’re keeping them alive for a reason. If there is no inherent value to society in our inmates, they need to be killed. Period. We’re investing our time and dollars because we want something back from them. Maybe work, maybe intelligence, maybe just love and support for their families. So there is something there. And if there is something there, our next question is, how can we maximize the utility of whatever we want from them. How do we do that for punishment in Hawaii.

Is it locking them up until forever and a day? Well there’s different thoughts, let’s look at a couple:

Different punishments in Hawaii

Prostitution and punishment in Hawaii

Men

I’ve talked all of us blue in the face with what I see as the problems with the proposed prostitution amendments and how they will over-punish for prostitution. About how they take a crime, being a John and want to increase the punishment ad nauseum. I’m slightly surprised no one has suggested thumbscrews yet for men so brash as to ask a woman, dressed for prostitution, how much she charges. Part of the question is what is the social utility of not only branding these men with the criminal seal, but also requiring them to miss 30 days of work, lose their job, lose their means of supporting their family, and have to explain to their children where they went.

Understand, this is not a deterrent unless they know about this. Know about this before they got drunk and stumbled back to a hotel and on the way back an attractive female dressed in sex approaches them and turns out to be an officer. And yes, that is quite a few cases, not the exception.

Women

And remember equal protection and women’s rights? Every time you raise the penalty for men, guess what, you raise the penalty for women. And there is one thing law cannot do, erase the 2000 year old social stigma in Christian societies on the prostitute. These laws will have, at the top of every resume forever, a brand that says she carries a prostitution charge. And, when she gets out of jail, and the pimp is waiting, do we think he’s going to give her credit on 30 days of payments. She gets beaten to make up the money.

No one who asks to increase the penalty for prostitution has any compassion for prostitutes. Period.

New marijuana law and easing punishment in Hawaii.

Great Marijuana in Honolulu

Let’s talk about the opposite issue. Currently the debate in Hawaii is whether we decriminalize marijuana. The argument being that somehow people “getting away with” smoking marijuana is “getting one over” on society. But the question goes back to the basic utility of what should be allowed in America. Or more importantly, what should be allowed to stop your growth for the future. As if people who smoke marijuana, as minors, cannot grow up to be anything important.

Of course they can. But should the failure to avoid arrest be enough to stop your admission to college, Harvard Law School, even  the Presidency? Hawaii’s movie in the right direction. Stop ending lives prematurely by marking people with a criminal conviction for something so manini.

The secret about most crimes:

“The progressive tendency is to fixate on the plight of those punished rather than the plight of those victimized, though of course these are often the same persons under different labels or at different moments.”

Ready for the secret? Almost all felony trials in Hawaii are over drugs. Very rarely do we see a case where the complainant is virgin white. People learn to be bullies by being bullied. People learn how to steal cars because someone who is successful at stealing cars shows them how to better their life. I became a lawyer because I watched a lawyer save my fathers life.

 The Right direction: HOPE in Honolulu

At this point in the essay, I was thinking, Mark Kleiman would really like J. Alm’s HOPE program. And then I read the next paragraph:

“HOPE: The obvious (but hard-to-administer) common-sense alternative is to make the rules less numerous, the monitoring tighter, and the sanctions swift, certain, and reasonably mild, and to clearly tell each probationer and parolee exactly what the rules are and what exactly will happen, every time and right away, when a rule is broken. Mildness—or proportionality, if you like—is essential to making the threat credible, and severity turns out to be unnecessary. Experimental evidence from the HOPE program in Hawaii showed that two days in jail is as good a deterrent to drug use as six weeks, as long as the two days actually happen, and happen every time. We don’t know yet whether a day in jail, or a couple of hours in a holding cell, or a weekend of home confinement, or a week of a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew, would do the trick, but we ought to learn.”

I wholly disagree with the idea that it is hard-to-administer less rules. In fact the situation is much easier than having every violation require a long complicated penalty. But the we can’t argue with the facts and the science. If we can get the same punishment from two days of jail that we can with six months of jail, keeping someone in jail for six months is not only inhumane, it minimizes social utility.  With luck HOPE will increase use across the island.

Read more about hope here

Let me close with a story.

Whenever we talk about proportionality and punishment in Hawaii I tell this story. Now, it’s a story about a loss, and I don’t normally tell those, but I’m honest as much as you can expect from a lawyer so I’m going to be honest about this one:

It was a harassment case, short, one hour trial that resulted from a domestic violence situation between a couple with two kids.  In the State of Hawaii, think of harassment like an “assault” where no one gets hurt. Just someone touches another person in a way they shouldn’t, pushes them out of the way or pokes them annoyingly. Like that.

Well the basic defense was, the guy just wanted to get into his car. The female wouldn’t move, he moved her out of the way. There was a question about how hard it was and whether it was warranted or not, but the when the judge brought down the gavel he said “GUILTY”. Man, I hate that word when I’m the defense attorney. And I was angry, I didn’t think he was guilty!

Gavel Punishment in Hawaii

But then the judge said something else, very quickly. “SENTENCE: $100.”

“WHAT!” the Prosecutor and I both yelled out. A conviction for a case like this comes with jail time. He harassed the mother of his kids. We’ve been trained to expect at a minimum a week.

The Prosecutor went in “Judge, we need jail. At a minimum anger management and domestic violence!

“Nah,” the Judge said, “He feels bad. It’s not going to happen again. It was just that one particular situation.”

And I thought to myself wow, I guess he is about one hundred dollars worth of guilty!

 

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Solving Prostitution Part II

Solving Prostitution Part II

Update…

This all started because I read a petition that used sensationalism over substance to achieve a visceral reaction to gain a signature for a petition. A member of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery told me that he agrees with me that the law DOES undisputedly contain a a way to detain juveniles without criminalizing them.

But that part of the petition remains unchanged. Which means they still choose pretty fiction over uncomfortable fact.

Earlier this week I sat down with the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery. After explaining everything to them, After their representative saying they AGREE with me on my point about the law, they amended a PART of their petition (to something that is still wrong). But the first sentence of their petition is still WHOLLY A LIE. It’s absolutely not true. I showed EXACTLY where in the law they can “detain juveniles without criminalizing them”, and they prefer to keep it as the lead in their petition. Probably because it is effective. It is only effective to people who don’t know what the law reads.

Basically there have three responses once they are made aware:

  1. “Marcus, we won’t change it because you read the law wrong. HERE IS WHY you read the law wrong, HERE IS WHERE the law says something different than what you say.”
  2. “Marcus, you read the law right, so we will change the petition to be intellectually honest.”
  3. “Marcus, its a great pitch, why should we change it?

Guess which they’re going with so far? Change it to be honest with the people you’re attempting to convince. They’ll quote you, they’ll then get corrected. Then they’ll blame you for leading them on..

(and the one edit they did make is wrong, here is the correct chart of the park closure vs. prostitution punishments:)

wpid-548666_457289240975801_310775165_n-2012-10-5-00-30.jpg

Intellectually disingenuous.

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Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery – Landsberg Law Office

Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery - Landsberg Law Office

I read something on a friend’s webpage today, a friend who I trust and respect to use the brain and best judgment. And when I read it, it literally blew my mind.

I. Here is where I lose friends.

What I’m talking about is a petition by the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, read it first here: http://www.change.org/petitions/pass-safe-harbor-end-demand-for-prostitution-laws-in-hawaii. Read that first for the context. I don’t think I’ve thought this hard about potential new laws since the Food Truck mess. I would point out, after my post on Bill 59 (still one of the most popular posts on my minor webpage) Tulsi Gabbard took the bill back into committee and made pretty much 100% of the changes I advocated. This is tough love. I post this to help you.

After reading that petition and reviewing the PASS – PACIFIC ALLIANCE TO STOP SLAVERY webpage, I immediately reached out through the network of professionals I deal with everyday in the Juvenile justice system. The network includes Prosecutors and Defense attorneys; their experiences and their contacts, including actual cases and Probation Officers. The juvenile justice system in Hawaii is confidential, meaning I can’t betray names or individual cases, but I can talk about specifics using generalities to explain particular points. I’ve also written about the juvenile justice system here before. I have also been published in the Star-Advertiser with my views on the Juvenile justice system.

II. The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery Petition:

The very first sentence of that above webpage reads: “Currently, Hawaii has no protocol to legally detain juveniles rescued from prostitution without criminalizing them.” The first sentence is the first misstatement of the law.
Hawaii Revised Statute 571-31 “Taking Children into custody; release; Notice;” reads
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Hawaii Criminal Defense: The Legal Blog

Issues in Hawaii Law.

Below is a collection of Articles I've written about Hawaii law.  Most are about criminal defense, Honolulu trial work, or future legal trends. Courtroom experience is probably the most common.  Others are comments on local or national law.  Hopefully there is something for you to find and enjoy.  If nothing else, you'll see the way I feel about certain issues, and the thought processes I put into legal problems we solve.

And some stories are just too funny NOT to tell.......

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