Some state lawmakers who say it’s time to be more aggressive in finding solutions for dealing with minors who become involved in illegal activities are holding a hearing on the issues today.
“We need to go a little further when we deal with issues of underage drinking, drug abuse and prostitution,” said Rep. John M. Mizuno, chairman of the House Human Services Committee. “The way we address these problems needs to change.”
Mizuno, along with Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, chairwoman of the Senate Human Services Committee, are holding a hearing to discuss minors today. The meeting begins at 12:30 p.m. at the State Capitol in Conference Room 325.
In addition, the discussion will also cover crimes committed against minors — like child abuse and cyber crimes, including electronic enticement toward minors for illegal purposes.
“These issues are raw,” Mizuno said. “People don’t like to read or talk about them.”
Mizuno said as these crimes continue to increase the solutions need to focus on getting the offenders into mentoring and rehabilitation programs versus locking them up in correctional facilities.
“Many people think that incarceration is the answer, but it’s not,” he said. “We need to be more progressive in how we treat the youth.”
Invited speakers include David Hipp, executive director of the Office of Youth Services and Cindy Adams, executive director of the Hawaii Meth Project.
By the end of the meeting, chairpersons of the Senate and House Services Committee will highlight the top solutions and prepare to introduce and propose more laws, Mizuno said.
Mizuno said he anticipates the committee will agree that incarceration isn’t the right alternative and more state funding should be funneled into prevention awareness and rehabilitation programs.
“Does this mean we increase your tax dollars? No, it just means we start closing down programs that don’t work and start looking at the programs that are effective.”