Tuesday, July 29, 2014         

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Prosecutor seeks tougher penalties

By Gene Park


Harsher penalties for domestic violence and prostitution are on the way for offenders if city Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro gets his way.

Kaneshiro said yesterday that he will be making the case for 23 bills introduced in the Legislature, many of them proposing harsher penalties for repeat offenders of certain crimes, whether it be promoting prostitution or violating a temporary restraining order.

House Bill 238 seeks to add a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 15 days and a fine of up to $600 for violating a temporary restraining order if the person has a prior abuse crime conviction. Currently there is only a mandatory sentence for second-time offenders of a restraining order violation.

Kaneshiro also seeks to upgrade penalties for theft and identity theft crimes against seniors. He said he has doubled the manpower for attorneys focusing on elderly abuse, adding two deputy prosecutors.

He said he also wants to upgrade witness security and protection for victims and witnesses in cases involving prostitution, including the prostitutes themselves.

"There's a state law where victims can get security protection, and prostitutes are not one of them," he said. "We recognize the fact that prostitutes may be victims, and we want to give them as much protection as possible."

Another bill would increase penalties for the promotion of prostitution by upgrading each degree of crime to the next level. If passed, all levels of promoting prostitution would be a felony.

Kaneshiro is also hoping to increase penalties against solicitors, or johns, of prostitution. Offenders with two or more prior convictions of prostitution face a Class C felony conviction.

"We're changing the focus on the johns," he said. "If you take away demand from prostitution, you can reduce the amount of prostitution that occurs in this community."

Another notable bill would allow prosecutors to civilly commit sexually violent predators. And Kaneshiro also seeks to convict anyone who kills, not just tortures, a pet animal as part of the animal cruelty law.

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