Property crimes are at their worst level since 1980. Robberies and auto thefts rose by 30 percent, while burglary and larceny increased at lesser rates. While reports of rapes declined, violent crime generally rose by 12.7 percent. Murders increased from 50 in 1994 to 56 in 1995.
However, violent crime rates in Hawaii are still lower than the national average. The main reason for Hawaii's poor ranking is the number of property crimes, which may be related to the state's flat economy in recent years.
Hawaii's crime rate may be slightly skewed because it fails to take into account the 160,000 tourists present here on a given day; counting them in the population would significantly lower the rate of crimes per capita. Tom Green, research chief for the state attorney general's office, notes that visitors are relatively easy targets for thieves. The implication is that the crime rate among tourists is much higher than among the general population. That is of no comfort for a state that relies on a strong tourist industry as the base of its economy.
Police Chief Michael Nakamura attributes the rise in crime to the shortage of prison space, which he says creates a belief among criminals that they will go unpunished even if caught. Green is right in saying that building more prisons is not the only answer - education and drug prevention are also important weapons in the war against crime - but he agrees that the shortage of prison space is a contributing factor.
Governor Cayetano has refused to build more prisons. With the economy improving and the budget crisis ended, the governor should reconsider. The alarming increase in crime requires more of a response than to maintain that the state can't afford to build more prisons or fund alternative sentencing programs.
After so many years of effort by the Friends, it is late in the game for another organization to propose an alternative plan such as a volleyball court. Restoration should proceed as soon as possible.
An award of $22 billion for the theft of a treasure that may not have existed is hard to take seriously. But the victims of the very real abuses of the Marcos regime who are hoping for compensation aren't laughing.
Rupert E. Phillips, CEO
John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher
David Shapiro, Managing Editor
Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor
Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors
A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor