Message from the President (Rhoda Miller)
Action Alert Sounded
Reapportionment Action Reviewed (Anne Lee)
Mahalo (Anna Hoover)
Bed and Breakfast Program
Sign Up for Legislative Interviews
Juvenile Rights Stressed (Cathy Filson)
Maui League Underway
Hazardous Wastes in Hawaii Discussed
Juvenile Rights Stressed
In mid July the local press reported that Harvey Weeks, a retired attorney on a neighbor island, had urged his county's police department to support the amendment of state laws to allow open juvenile hearings which could then be observed by the public and the media. Weeks was quoted as saying "No one realizes the extent of the problem of juvenile crime because everything is conducted behind closed doors." He proposed that any youth 15 or older who was implicated in a second felony act be treated as an adult with open court proceedings. The media would then report names of offenders, their punishment and the names of their parents.
Bills have been introduced at the legislature proposing similar amendments. The public wants to know what happens to juvenile offenders.
The principle of confidentiality is the reason why the public does not know what happens to youth caught in law violations. One effect of this principle is to restrict access to records. Family court records are not available to the public and police records are open only by order of the court. A second effect is that the general public, and that includes the media, is excluded from Family Court hearings.
The Hawaii League of Women Voters recently announced its support of a Family Court based on the premise that society should take the opportunity to guide our young people rather than stigmatize them with criminal labels.
A recent publication of ours reports on the juveniles' legal rights, of which confidentiality is one. (Under 18 and Under Arrest - Juvenile Rights). Included in the report is a summary of what other people who are concerned with juvenile justice are doing and thinking.