HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – In an effort to alleviate the backlog within the court system and reduce crime and recidivism, Senate Bill 718, which creates a Community Court outreach project in the City and County of Honolulu was signed into law.
Intended to function as a mobile justice system for nonviolent offenders, judges go out into the community and have the flexibility to impose alternative sentences, community service and mandatory participation in appropriate rehabilitative programs. The goal of the project is to help nonviolent offenders who face problems such as drug abuse and mental health challenges to obtain basic services and necessities, like food and shelter.
According to Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, the pilot project has already proven a success. A total of 318 cases have been taken off the calendar. Twenty-one individuals to date have participated in the pilot project with seven completing their community service sentences and five placed in short and long-term housing.
The legislature intends to evaluate the community court outreach project during its operational period and determine whether the project should be expanded to other counties of the State.
SB718 (Act 55) aligns with the 2017 Senate Legislative Program which committed to supporting efforts for transforming justice to assist the state’s incarcerated and homeless population.