comscore 2020 Election: Christopher R. Bridges | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2020 Election: Christopher R. Bridges

  • Chris Bridges
Name on ballot:

Christopher R. Bridges

Running for:

Hawaii island prosecuting attorney

Political party:

Non Partisan

Campaign website:

No answer submitted

Current occupation:

No answer submitted

Age:

48

Previous job history:

B.A., Economics, UH Manoa 1997; Student Senator, Finance Committee Chair; Vice Chair, University of Hawaii Student Caucus;
J.D. Pepperdine University School of Law, Cum Laude 2000; Law Review, Trial Team, Research Assistant, Dean’s List (every semester)
Full-Time Legal Extern, US District Court, Los Angeles, Ca
Deputy Public Defender, San Diego, Ca
First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Kauai, Hi
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Hilo, Hi
Recognized by Hawaii House of Representatives for pro bono work in our community.

Instructor Hawaii County Police Recruit Class
Instructor California Defense Investigators Association
Hawaii Penal Rules Committee
Hawaii Jury Instructions Committee
Statewide Wiretap Committee
Inter County Criminal Intelligence Unit

Current Vice Commodore Na Hoa Holomoku YC

Former AYSO coach, Puna

Previous elected office, if any:

Former First Deputy Prosecuting Atty, Kauai

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I am a Criminal Lawyer with 20 years experience in criminal law as a Public Defender, a Prosecuting Attorney, and a private Criminal Trial Lawyer. I have tried over 60 Jury Trials and over 200 judge trials.

What will be your top priority if elected?

If elected I hope to bring about meaningful criminal justice reform by eliminating cash bail for non-violent offenders and changing our Penal system to one based on rehabilitation rather than punishment. I want to expand the restorative justice program and work with community organizations to create diversion and rehabilitation programs for the homeless, the mentally ill and drug addicts.

Time and again, we see the wealthy and the well connected able to free themselves and mount a vigorous defense when charged with crimes, while the poor and disenfranchised are given the choice of pleading out or languishing in jail due to their inability to post pre-trial bail. As Prosecutor, I will promote the elimination of cash bail for non-violent offenders and only seek cash bail where the Defendant truly poses a threat to our community or is a serious flight risk. Washington DC has shown that this approach can work and has reduced pretrial supervision costs from $150 per day per offender to a meager $18 per day. Yet they find that the vast majority of people still show up for court as ordered. This approach saves money and alleviates overcrowding in the jails.

I firmly believe that mass incarceration of non-violent offenders is a failure. Locking people up and branding them as Felons does not change behaviors nor does it deter crime. On the contrary, long periods of incarceration and the stigma of being an ex-convict often has the negative effect of eliminating possibilities for jobs and housing, both for the person locked up and for their family members. Imprisonment is appropriate for some people (those who engage in predatory behaviors against other citizens, especially vulnerable populations), but most people placed in America’s jails since 1971 are there because they are drug addicts, or homeless, or mentally ill.

We should treat drug addiction as a Public Health Issue rather than a purely criminal one. We should strive to divert funding from jails to rehabilitation programs and prevention education.

We need to train our Police to better deal with those suffering from Mental Health Issues and consider non-penal diversion programs for the Mentally Ill. We would not lock up our Grandmother because she got cancer. Why should we imprison our cousin because he is Bipolar?

Did you support the release of some inmates to fight the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails? Please explain.

Unfortunately, the haste involved in the Covid releases precluded a proper vetting of who should have been released and who shouldn’t have.

Some who should have never been locked up in the first place got released. This was a very good thing.

Some who should have been locked up, also got released…..not a good thing.

Some who should have been released are still in jail…also not good.

This would not have been a problem had the Courts and the Prosecutors only jailed violent and repeat offenders to begin with, then we would not have needed to release anyone due to Covid. We need to prosecute smarter so that there is room for violent offenders and so that our jail cells are not overcrowded.

If we look at the people who are locked up in Hawaii for low level street crimes, we see that they are primarily the Homeless, the Mentally Ill, or Drug Addicts. Often, they fall into more than one of these three categories. We need to look for alternatives to jail for these populations. We need to expand our social services for the economically disadvantaged. We need to have more treatment options for the mentally ill. And we need rehabilitation and diversion programs for drug users and addicts.

What is the most effective way to reduce crime on your island?

We need more juvenile intervention. We need more empathy in our courts. We need to focus our system on rehabilitation rather that pure punishment. We need to make sure that programs and opportunities are available to ensure that when prisoners are reintegrated into society that they can be successful, contributing members to society and thus reduce recidivism. Most crime is driven by poverty. Education and job opportunities are essential to breaking the cycle. We need to eliminate systemic racism in the criminal justice system. Native Hawaiians represent approximately 10 percent of our state’s population but 39 percent of its prisoners. This needs to end. NOW. Equal Justice for ALL people.

Given the budget constraints of county government, are there certain crimes you would prioritize or de-prioritize in terms of prosecution?

As a prosecutor I will focus more energy on prosecuting sex offenses, crimes of violence (especially those against women, children and the elderly), and repeat offenders. We need to prosecute smarter. Our jails are overcrowded because we are locking people up for merely missing court. We should limit incarceration to offenders who pose a danger to society.

Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.

Many calls for police service deal with mental illness. I believe that all police should have training on recognizing and addressing the mentally ill. There should be officers with advanced mental health training available on every shift to help defuse rather than escalate potentially volatile situations. This will improve safety for our community and for our brothers in blue.

Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?

As human beings, we are at a sea change in history. In 2020, we have seen the devastation of our economy and riots in major US cities from coast to coast. We have seen a clambering for CHANGE. We have the unique opportunity Right Now and Right Here to do something amazing. We can Be the Change. We can choose to stay the course with failed systems that disfavor the poor and racial minorities…..or we can try a new approach. A humanitarian approach that is focused on families and peace and prosperity. We can try to be better. We CAN be better. You have taken the first step. You are here finding out about your local candidates. Now spread the word. Let’s pick our representatives not by popularity contests or with the battle of who has the most plastic signs. Let’s choose based on ideas. Spread the word. VOTE.

I am Christopher R. Bridges. I am a trial lawyer with 20 years experience in criminal law. I am the only candidate with experience running a prosecutors office and the one most willing to change that which is not working. I humbly ask for your vote for Prosecuting Attorney.


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