ALM, Steve

1 Native Hawaiians are overrepresented in every stage of the criminal justice process, including in arrest rates and in our prison population. Moreover, controlling for many common factors including type of charge, an OHA study revealed that Native Hawaiians were more likely to be found guilty, receive a prison sentence, and receive a longer prison sentence or probation term than most other ethnic groups. As prosecutor, what would you do, if anything, to investigate and address possible systemic biases against Native Hawaiians and other ethnic groups in our criminal justice system?

2 What are your plans, if any, to explore alternatives for defendants that can more effectively ensure their compliance with the law, including by addressing underlying issues such as mental health or substance abuse challenges?[

3 A widespread COVID-19 outbreak resulting from overcrowded correctional facilities will not only threaten the health and safety of our paʻahao (prisoners) and public safety staff, but may also decrease the number of available hospital beds and lead to a shortage of desperately needed medical resources, impacting the broader community. What role can the prosecutor play to prevent such an outcome?

4 Despite the Governor’s emergency proclamation prohibiting eviction actions during this pandemic, landlords have continued to illegally seek to evict their tenants. In some cases, unlawful eviction notices, harassment, and intimidation have led to families abandoning their places of residence, forcing them to live in even more crowded conditions or even on the streets, amidst a pandemic. As prosecutor, would you seek to enforce all aspects of the Governor’s emergency orders including and particularly with respect to his prohibition on eviction actions?

Photo: Steve Alm

AGE: 67
OCCUPATION: First Circuit Court Judge (Ret.)
SCHOOL(S) ATTENDED: University Lab School/University of Hawaiʻi/University of Oregon

  1. I will create a culture at the Prosecutor’s Office of high ethical standards and doing justice, treating all races fairly at all phases of the process: from case charging through plea agreements or trials, to appeal. Deputy prosecutors will undergo implicit bias training as I did as a judge.
    I will encourage expanding strategies that help Native Hawaiians and others. Research by Pepperdine and UCLA found that Native Hawaiians on HOPE Probation had their probation revoked and were sent to prison 35% less often than Native Hawaiians on regular probation. As the HOPE Probation judge supervises over 2,000 probationers at a time, that means hundreds of Native Hawaiians have succeeded on probation and avoided prison because they were in HOPE, rather than in regular probation.
    I chaired the 2015 Penal Code Review Committee whose recommendations led to eliminating mandatory minimums for small drug offenses. Hundreds of Native Hawaiians have since avoided prison and had a chance at treatment in the community.
  2. I support expanding strategies for appropriate defendants that favor probation over prison. Research shows that drug/alcohol and/or mental health treatment is more effective in the community than in prison. Being smart on crime means expanding the use of research-proven strategies like Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and HOPE Probation.
    Implementing these strategies in pretrial and parole would help more people succeed on community supervision and lead to fewer, including many Native Hawaiians, going to, or going back to prison. It is also important to match people with the right treatment program. For those desiring a Native Hawaiian values-based approach, Hoʻomau Ke Ola in Waiʻanae is a good option.
  3. The Honolulu Prosecutor has an important role and should be active and vocal in working with the other partners (Department of Public Safety (DPS), Attorney General, Department of Health (DOH), Public Defender, Treatment Providers, HPD, etc) to produce creative solutions to the COVID-19 crisis.
    Case-by-case reviews by judges will help identity appropriate nonviolent inmates for release. A place to live and appropriate supervision should follow.
    DPS needs to step up and safely house its inmates. That includes regularly testing all Adult Corrections Officers (ACOs), civilian staff, current inmates, and any new admissions, as well as physical distancing, masking, and other hygiene measures. ACOs, like other first responders, should be housed in hotels to prevent their taking the virus home to their families, or bringing it back to OCCC. DPS should use spaces like gyms, courtyards, etc, and build temporary structures for quarantining for two weeks. If more space is needed they should look at National Guard Armories, Aloha Stadium, etc.
    Regular inspections of OCCC by DOH doctors, or those in private practice, should be done and publicly reported on.
  4. Despite the Governor’s emergency proclamation halting evictions, there are reports of landlords illegally pressuring tenants to leave before 9/30/20, when the moratorium currently expires. I will coordinate with the Attorney General’s office to prosecute these cases. Those convicted of this misdemeanor may be given up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
    If landlords use eviction tactics that involve other criminal behavior (e.g. harassment, property damage), I will also prosecute those cases.
    Various agencies can help tenants with their concerns, such as the State’s Office of Consumer Protection, the Hawaiʻi Legal Aid Society, and various nonprofit agencies. A call to Aloha United Way (phone: 211) can help tenants figure out their options.
    Coordination between the Prosecuting Attorney and other agencies will ensure that eviction cases do not fall between bureaucratic cracks.

View more of this candidate’s manaʻo from the Ka Wai Ola News 2020 Primary Election Survey