Thursday, February 1, 2001
Drug court proposal
should be expandedThe issue: Governor Cayetano has proposed that first-time nonviolent drug offenders be required to undergo drug treatment.
Our view: The criminal history of the suspect in a Waikiki murder suggests that those who commit drug-related crimes and violate drug-abuse requirements of parole should be included in such a policy.
THE lengthy criminal record of the suspect in the death of a Canadian tourist in Waikiki has prompted suggestions for more severe sentencing. A closer examination of Steven Hauge's background would lead more logically to support and even expansion of Governor Cayetano's proposal for drug treatment rather than prison terms for some offenders.
Since 1977, Hauge has been convicted of 45 crimes, mostly misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors. His record includes nine felonies, all nonviolent forgery offenses in 1978 except for an assault in 1990 and terrorist threatening in 1994. He was released from prison in October 1999 after serving five years for the terroristic-threatening conviction. He is being held in connection with the robbery and bludgeoning death of Canadian visitor Norman Chaplan, 81, at a Waikiki hotel.
An integral part of Hauge's criminal background seems to have been substance abuse. Parole officers say he consumed alcohol and possessed cocaine in violation of parole requirements, resulting in his being forced to serve his full term for the 1994 conviction. Previous parole violations also involved cocaine use.
Hauge's case is not unusual. Max Otani, the Paroling Authority's administrator, says at least half of parole violations involve illicit drug use.
Experts agree that drug-abuse treatment is the key to stopping the cycle of imprisonment, release and re-arrest. Drug courts were introduced at the state and local levels in the late 1980s and now number about 600 around the country.
The Oahu drug court takes only defendants who meet specific qualifications and who volunteer to participate. However, Barry McCaffrey, the nation's so-called drug czar during the Clinton administration, says mandatory participation is necessary for drug courts to be effective. "It doesn't work without the coercive threat of the drug court," he says.
Cayetano has proposed mandatory drug treatment for first-time nonviolent drug offenders. Unfortunately, that may fail to include criminals who are convicted of non-drug offenses motivated by substance abuse.
"People are not arrested and prosecuted and jailed for first-time possession of a controlled drug for personal addiction," McCaffrey says. "That almost doesn't happen. People end up behind bars because they break into your house or your car, they steal money from your business or they're addicted themselves and they're selling drugs to other people to pay for their drug habit. That's why they get arrested and prosecuted."
Cayetano's proposal for mandatory drug treatment would be improved if it were to include drug-abusing parole violators and perpetrators of such drug-related offenses rather than drug-law offenders.
Hawaii tourism blooms
but future is uncertainThe issue: Hawaii's tourism has hit record levels and a new shopping mall reflects optimism.
Our view: Concerns about an economic downturn on the mainland cast uncertainty about Hawaii's prosperity.
WHILE some economists forecast troubles ahead on the mainland, Hawaii increasingly seems to be pulling out of its decade-long stagnation. Figures for the last year reveal a record tourism rate, with a resurgence of visitors from Asia, and the opening of a spectacular shopping mall has added to the lure.
The state's tourism rate in December was up 7.6 percent from the same month in 1999. Behind that number was the healthy increase in tourism from both the mainland and from Asia -- 70 percent of it from Japan -- combining into a yearly record of nearly 7 million tourists. That was a 3.5 percent improvement over 1999.
"The remarkable performance of the visitor industry in 2000 continues a growth trend, showing that Hawaii has reasserted itself as a competitor in the global tourism market," said Seiji Naya, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. "The record numbers also demonstrate the effect of improved marketing and reflect the positive changes taking place in Hawaii's economy."
One change that new arrivals are sure to notice is the DFS Galleria, a new 284,000-square-foot shopping mall with duty-free and non-duty-free shops, featuring a 65,000-gallon aquarium and a design reminiscent of Honolulu's boat days. The mall's opening not only reflects the current rejuvenation of tourism but provides evidence of optimism about Waikiki's future.
That may be tempered, however, by a slowing down of the mainland economy. The nation's economy grew at an annual rate of only 1.4 percent during the final three months of 2000, the weakest performance in more than five years. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says growth this quarter is probably "very close to zero."
"The extent and the suddenness of the slowdown has caught everyone by surprise," said economist Oscar Gonzalez of John Hancock Financial Services. "This isn't a crash, but certainly is a sudden jolt."
Hawaii has reason at this time to celebrate its economic rebound but must keep a cautious eye on the source of its tourism.
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