State Rep. John Mizuno (D-30th) will propose a crime bill that will impose harsher sentences on persons who commit violent crimes. Called the “Halo Bill,” the proposed legislation will impose maximum sentences on people who commit violent crimes within 750 feet of a school or park in Hawaii. This 750-foot “halo” is designed to protect children near schools and parks.
Students and teachers alike are happy about the proposal. Expressing the belief that schools should serve as a refuge for students, people are feeling a mixture of relief that stronger measures will be taken and outrage that harsher penalties are not already in place.
It took the uncle of a victim to approach his local representative for the issue find support. Rep. Mizuno was happy to propose this bill to impose stiffer punishments for violent crimes committed near schools. The violent crimes include murder and rape for which will the maximum punishment will imposed.
The legislation is proposed in response to the brutal killing of Farrington High School student Iris Rodriguez-Kaikana. She was killed last August on her way home from school. Rep. Mizuno believes that, in addition to protecting children, the bill will also help the community heal from the brutal killing of the 18-year old student.
Other states have passed similar laws imposing harsher penalties for crimes committed near schools. California has the Juvenile Drug Trafficking and Schoolyard Act, which imposes additional prison time for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school. It was passed with the goal of creating a “buffer” around schools.
Other state legislatures have rejected similar measures. For example, bills prohibiting registered sex offenders from living near schools have been rejected. Opponents of those measures assert that it lulls children and parents into a false sense of security within the prohibited zone. Moreover, the measures were considered an unreasonable limitation on individual rights.
No opponents to the Halo Bill have emerged at this time.
Although Rep. Mizuno believes that the bill is extremely important, he also believes that it needs work before its submission to the legislature. The language of the bill is considered too broad, which could dilute its impact and overreach its scope.
The legislators want the Halo Bill to focus on persons who commit violent crimes such as sexual assault, rape, and first- and second-degree murder. They believe that this would create the strongest deterrent against violent crimes near schools as well as protect children in those areas.
The bill will be proposed this session, which began in January.