STAND. COM. REP. NO.2418
RE: S.B. No. 2144
Honorable Robert Bunda
President of the Senate
Twenty-First State Legislature
Regular Session of 2002
State of Hawaii
Your Committee on Judiciary, to which was referred S.B. No. 2144 entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT MAKING AN APPROPRIATION FOR CRIME PREVENTION THROUGH THE REHABILITATION OF YOUTH GANG MEMBERS,"
begs leave to report as follows:
The purpose of this measure is to make an appropriation for crime prevention through the rehabilitation of youth gang members.
Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Adult Friends for Youth and seven private citizens.
There are youth gangs in Hawaii. The HPD estimates that 1,500 youth are involved in gangs on Oahu alone. Youth gangs are reputed to be involved in criminal activity, ranging from property damage (drawing graffiti) to murder. Unfortunately, the approach to dealing with youth gangs has been punitive in nature, relying on the criminal justice system to treat them as law violators. The image of a youth gang member is an incorrigible teenager who needs to be apprehended and punished. However, your Committee believes that while punitive measures may be necessary, there is a much more subtle and broader picture that must be looked at.
The question that your Committee is concerned about is: How do youth become involved in gangs in the first place? A lot has to do with self-image. According to an eleven year examination on the subject, most gang youths believe they are unacceptable in the mainstream of society because they look different from the racial or ethnic groups that appear to run things. This low self-esteem is exacerbated by poverty, few role models, and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. There are additional factors that contribute to gang activity, including living in high crime neighborhoods, low high school graduation rates, a fatalistic outlook that they will not live long enough to graduate from high school, and a generational perpetuation of poverty and law violation.
Your Committee finds that prevention and rehabilitation are necessary elements to addressing the problem of youth gangs. This measure would provide funding to develop a program utilizing the proven redirectional method to rehabilitate and integrate members of youth gangs and other high risk youth into the social mainstream, and to provide therapeutic intervention in schools.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Judiciary that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 2144 and recommends that it pass Second Reading and be referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Judiciary,
BRIAN KANNO, Chair