KAU, Megan

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1053
Questions
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: Megan Kau

Email: megankkau@gmail.com
Website: www.friendsofmegankau.com
AGE: 43
OCCUPATION: lawyer
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Honolulu
SCHOOL(S) ATTENDED: Punahou, UH Mānoa, and Santa Clara University
CURRENT RESIDENCE: Honolulu

  1. I do not believe that law enforcement targets a certain race when investigating crimes. However, I do acknowledge that there are socio-economic issues in our community, just as there are in other societies. The Prosecutor is not in a position to fix these societal issues. The Prosecutor’s role is to objectively apply the criminal law to anyone that violates the law as it is written, no matter what race the defendant may be. My plan is to fulfill that role. A Prosecutor that chooses which type of race to charge (or not charge) for a criminal offense becomes a corrupt Prosecutor. However, a Prosecutor can be a community leader and educate the community on the effects of drug use and the effect the criminal justice system has on families.
  2. Incarceration must be relied upon within the criminal justice system. Incarceration is an alternative to treatment – and treatment is always the better solution. But the challenge is that very often a drug user will not get treatment unless he/she is forced to do so. Therefore, in order to get treatment, a defendant has two choices: either (1) get treatment on his/her own; or (2) get forced into treatment with the threat of incarceration. If a defendant refuses to get treatment, he/she must be incarcerated.
  3. I don’t believe releasing inmates solely because of the pandemic is in the best interest of public safety. A judge has already ruled that this defendant should not be released into the community – because he/she is a flight risk and/or because he/she is likely to re-offend. Being in the midst of a pandemic does not change those factors. If the defendant is at risk of death because he/she has a pre-existing medical condition, the trial judge may consider that on a case-by-case basis to address that risk. Otherwise, the Department of the Public Safety has its own policies in place to deal with this type of situation. Inmates are safer in a facility and the community is safer while inmates are in a facility.
  4. Landlord-tenant law is governed by Chapter 521 of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes. The Prosecutor does not have jurisdiction to bring cases under this chapter. Other aspects of the Governor’s emergency orders may be enforced, but it depends on what each person was charged with. It is difficult to make a blanket statement that we will enforce all orders. Each order and each violation needs to be evaluated individually.

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