Improving economy
helps reduce crime


Hawaii recorded a rate of serious crimes last year that was 8.9 percent less than 2002, including the lowest murder rate since it became a state.

HAWAII'S crime rate fell dramatically last year, slightly contrary to a national trend but somewhat similar to rates reported recently in several states on the mainland. The state's economic recovery is the most logical catalyst in the crime reduction, highlighted by a sharp drop in property crime. Continued improvement in the economy and vigilance by law enforcement agencies should keep the crime rate at low levels.

The Attorney General's Office reports that the state's overall rate of serious crimes fell 8.9 per cent last year from 2002, reversing a three-year trend of increased crime. The statistics include the violent crimes of murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault, and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, auto theft and arson. The only increase was in the rate of aggravated assault.

Although Hawaii's violent crime rate rose by 3.2 percent, the 22 murders committed in the islands last year were the lowest since 1968 and resulted in the smallest per capita murder rate since 1956. Property crimes fell by 9.4 percent statewide.

Conversely, the FBI reported recently that the nation's violent crime rate declined last year by 3.2 percent, despite a 1.3 percent rise in the murder rate. Property crimes remained about the same, declining by only 0.1 percent.

California's violent crime rate fell 3.4 percent while property crimes rose by 2 percent. In Illinois, the crime rate fell in all categories, likewise in Michigan and Ohio. Serious crimes in Colorado declined by 2.9 percent, with the only rise being in robberies.

"As the economy improves, we typically see less crime," Larimer County, Colo., Sheriff Jim Alderden told the Denver Post. "When people are out of work, there's more alcohol abuse, more substance abuse and more domestic violence."

That is the widespread understanding of trends in crime, even though law enforcement efforts also deserve credit. Honolulu Deputy Police Chief Paul Putzulu points out that a program targeting auto theft in the Pearl City district has resulted in an increase in arrests, and he credits "hard work" with young people for the sixth consecutive year of a low number of juvenile arrests.

The statistics don't reflect the role of drugs in crime, but the use of crystal methamphetamine continues to be a major problem. The improving economy alone cannot be relied upon to eliminate "ice," but it should help in fighting the epidemic through law enforcement and treatment.


Congress wastes time
on gay marriage issue


The U.S. House has approved legislation that would prohibit federal courts from overturning a law allowing states to refuse recognition of gay marriages performed in other states.

WHILE some congressional leaders are resisting pressure to promptly overhaul the nation's intelligence operation, saying they don't want to be rushed, frivolous and time-consuming measures aimed a prohibiting gay marriage are receiving ample time on the Capitol stage. After the Senate rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages, the House, by a party-line vote, approved an unconstitutional anti-gay marriage measure. The purpose of both proposals was to put members of Congress on record for this year's political campaign.

For the record, Hawaii's entire congressional delegation properly cast their votes against these outrageous proposals. Senators Inouye and Akaka voted against a procedure that would have forced a vote on the constitutional amendment, which even proponents agreed was doomed.

A week later, Reps. Ed Case and Neil Abercrombie joined most other Democrats in voting against a bill that would try to prohibit federal courts from overturning as unconstitutional the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which gives states the right to refuse recognition of gay marriages performed elsewhere. The attempt to strip the judicial branch of government of its role on this issue is as unconstitutional as the 1996 law itself, which is certain to be stricken down by the courts.

The courts have yet to rule whether the U.S. Constitution's requirement that each state give "full faith and credit" to public acts of other states means that a marriage performed in Massachusetts, which has legalized gay marriage, must be recognized in other states. That decision is at least years away and may never occur.

The Massachusetts law faces the same sort of constitutional retreat made by Hawaii voters after the state Supreme Court ruled that gay marriages must be honored. The Hawaii court ruling prompted the state constitutional amendment, similar constitutional or statutory measures in other states and the 1996 federal law.

The bill passed by the U.S. House was the first in history aimed at barring federal courts from considering the constitutionality of any federal law. If it were enacted, the high court would strike it down in an instant. Realizing that fact, the bill's proponents intended only to create fodder for this year's campaign.



Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

David Black, Dan Case, Dennis Francis,
Larry Johnson, Duane Kurisu, Warren Luke,
Colbert Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe,

Dennis Francis, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor, 529-4791;
Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor, 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor, 529-4762;

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4748;

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