Special Reports: 2000-2002 Release Dates

Firearm-Related Violent Crimes in Hawaii, 1992-2001

These data, available only from the CPJAD web site, were prepared as an initial step as Hawaii’s official Research Partner for Project Safe Neighborhoods, a nationwide initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Attorney General in partnership with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The data show a generally declining trend and relatively low level of firearm-related violent crime in Hawaii over the past decade.

Proportion of Firearm-Related Violent Crimes by County, 1992-2001


A Pilot Study on the Mental Health of Adolescents and Youth at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility

October 25, 2002 (added) – The mental health and well-being of Hawaii’s children and adolescents have been major areas of concern. For example, the Felix-Waihee/Cayetano class-action lawsuit, which involved the mental health services for students in Hawaii, has been in existence now for nearly a decade. With the support of the Office of Youth Services, State of Hawaii, the following is a report on the mental health status of adolescents at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF). A total of 269 adolescent records were reviewed retrospectively for the time period of July 1, 1999 to June 31, 2000. The study was conducted by Dr. S. Peter Kim (Principal Investigator, Psychiatrist, Professor) and Dr. Earl S. Hishinuma (Co-Principal Investigator, Vice Chair-Research), Department of Psychiatry, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and their colleagues. An overview of the findings and implications can be found in the Executive Summary.

Note: Web hosting for this report is provided as a courtesy by the Department of the Attorney General. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Attorney General.


Developing a NIBRS-Compatible Homicide Database: A Multistate Pilot Test (Hawaii Test Site)

September 13, 2002 – The purpose of this six-state pilot study is to assess the feasibility of developing a national homicide information system to be used for both investigative and research purposes. The specific focus is on determining whether or not National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) guidelines for crime data could be used as the structure for the homicide information system, even for states and agencies that do not otherwise report NIBRS data. Comprehensive police records on 27 “closed” and 4 “open” homicide incidents (including various related offenses, offenders, and victims) reported statewide during an 18-month period of 2000-2001 were reviewed and classified per NIBRS protocol. In addition, interviews focusing on data availability and recordkeeping procedures were conducted with police investigators and records personnel, and the Honolulu Medical Examiner.

The study results show that only about 50% of the required NIBRS data elements could be obtained fairly easily from standardized report forms. Another 25% of the elements could be completed with considerable difficulty after reading lengthy narrative reports and/or deducing data that did not explicitly appear in the case files, and the remaining 25% could not be completed at all. Moreover, seven major impediments to using NIBRS in this manner became apparent over the course of study. To summarize these impediments, existing investigation and data collection/reporting procedures at Hawaii’s agencies do not lend themselves to a retrospective conversion to NIBRS, while, alternatively, the prospect of making major procedural changes and training efforts in order to “do NIBRS” from the front end seems unrealistic. Consequently, it is recommended that the search for a suitable platform on which to build a national homicide information system be focused elsewhere.

Although this report is provided as a standalone publication, it is primarily intended to be one of six state reports that will form the basis of a final report to be prepared by the National Justice Research & Statistics Association.


Registered Sex Offenders in Hawaii: A Statistical Profile

May 2002 – This study, conducted in collaboration with Chaminade University of Honolulu, is a descriptive analysis of Hawaii’s 1,458 sex offender population who were recorded in the State sex offender registry as of May 2001. The registry is maintained by the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center (HCJDC) within the Department of the Attorney General. Data were compiled from information contained in the registry as well as from criminal history records also maintained by the HCJDC.

Findings:

  • The average registered sex offender in Hawaii is most likely a male between 40 and 49 years of age, and of Caucasian, Hawaiian/part-Hawaiian, or Filipino race/ethnicity. Further research is required to explain the apparent over- and under-representation of certain ethnicities in the sex offender data; a modest survey research effort could explore socioeconomic factors as well as cultural attitudes and beliefs about the commission and reporting of sexual assaults.
  • He generally resides in the City & County of Honolulu, in either the Kapalama, Waipahu, or Waianae areas. As might be expected, if he lives in another county, he will most likely reside in one of the major population centers. Sex offenders’ place of residence may in some cases be correctional institutions and programs.
  • His criminal record includes an average of between one and five felonies and about the same amount of misdemeanors.
  • Aside from his sex offenses, which were nearly all violent, most felony convictions were for non-violent offenses. Misdemeanor convictions were likely to be for offenses such as contempt of court or traffic violations.
  • In terms of his sex offense history, he will most likely carry a charge of either second or third degree sexual assault. First degree sexual assault is much less likely, as is the pre-1987 legal reform crime of rape. No matter what the charge, he is most likely to have only a single sex offense charge against him in his criminal history.
  • The 1,458 registered sex offenders carried some 18,825 criminal charges on their combined criminal records, although 588 of these charges (3.1 percent) did not have enough information to be classified. Of the 18,237 classifiable charges, 33.8 percent (6,170) were for violent sex offenses. Another 39.8 percent were for comparatively minor offenses such as contempt of court and traffic violations. The remainder of charges included other violent offenses (6.7 percent), property offenses (9.7 percent), and drug and alcohol offenses (7.0 percent).
  • Of the 6,170 sex offense cases analyzed, 84.0 percent had reached some sort of final disposition, while the remainder were still pending. Some 61.6 percent of the concluded cases were adjudicated guilty. Acquittals accounted for 25.1 percent and another 13.2 percent of cases were nolle prosequi settlements (the prosecutors opted not to prosecute).
  • Once convicted of a violent sex offense, the majority of offenders (54.3 percent) who were incarcerated were sentenced to four or more years of confinement. Another 44.9 percent were incarcerated for one year or less. Almost no offenders were sentenced to between one and four years.
  • Among convicted violent sex offenders receiving probation as part of their sentence (usually in addition to a period of incarceration), 86.8 percent received a five-year term of probation. Fines were part of a sentence in only 2.5 percent of these cases. Nearly all of these were for fines of up to $1,000. Other sentence components included restitution (3.8 percent) and community service (3.1 percent).
  • Based on a limited number (less than 10 percent) of cases containing victim information, victims were most likely to be Filipino, Caucasian or Hawaiian/part-Hawaiian. They were most likely to be acquaintances of the offenders, rather than family members or strangers. If the assault occurred within the family, the victim was most likely a child or step-child. If the assault took place outside the family, then the relationship was most often that of an “acquaintance” rather than a “neighbor,” “friend,” or “employee.”

Firearm Registrations in Hawaii, 2001

February 20, 2002 – The Department of the Attorney General released a special report detailing state firearm registration statistics for Calendar Year 2001.

A total of 6,829 personal/private firearm permit applications were processed in Hawaii during 2001, marking a 5.2% increase from the 6,489 applications processed in 2000. Of the applications processed in 2001, 94.3% (6,443) were approved and resulted in issued permits; 3.7% (252) were approved but subsequently voided after the applicants failed to return for their permits within a specified time period; and 2.0% (134) were rejected due to one or more disqualifying factors. These proportions are essentially unchanged from the figures reported for 2000.

The 6,443 permits issued in 2001 cover a total of 14,305 firearms registered. Roughly half (45.9%, or 6,567) of these firearms were imported from out of state, with the remainder accounted for by in-state transfers.

Longarms accounted for 58.4% (8,353) of all firearms registered in 2001. Broken out further, rifles and shotguns comprised 42.5% (6,077) and 15.9% (2,276) of total registrations, respectively; the remaining 39.7% (5,952) of registered firearms were handguns.

As compared to Hawaii’s resident population distribution, firearm registration activity occurred disproportionately across the four counties during 2001. Considerably fewer permit applications were processed in the City & County of Honolulu than would be expected based on its population size, and proportionately far fewer applications were rejected. Hawaii County recorded an almost 50% larger-than-expected share of processed applications and an even greater portion of rejections. Maui County’s proportion of rejections was 336% the size of its share of the state population. Applications were processed in Kauai County in roughly equal proportion to its population size, although fewer rejections than expected were recorded.

As noted previously, 2.0% (134) of all permit applications in Hawaii during 2001 were rejected for cause. Hawaii’s rejection rate compares favorably with the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics’ figure of 2.5% reported for all state and local agencies conducting background checks for firearm permits and transfers in 2000. The Hawaii statistic is particularly noteworthy when taking into consideration the state’s comparatively exhaustive background check procedures and extensive list of disqualifying factors.

Of the 134 total rejections, 37.3% (50) were due to prior criminal convictions, while 6.7% (9) arose from current indictments or otherwise pending cases. The majority (56.0%, or 75) of rejections were not based on the criminal history of the applicants.

Rejections for mental health issues (including past or present drug/alcohol treatment), which comprise about half of all rejections, can be favorably resolved with a doctor’s note stating that the applicant is no longer adversely affected. While an original rejection cannot be overturned, a new application may be submitted and the appropriate permit will be issued. It is unknown how many applicants who are initially rejected for mental health reasons successfully reapply for permits.

Click here to read the Honolulu Advertiser’s article on Firearm Registrations in Hawaii, 2001.


Project Bridge

 

A Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program in the State of Hawaii:
Program Implementation and Outcome Review

The Department of Public Safety estimates that 85 percent of the inmates in correctional facilities in the State of Hawaii have a history of substance abuse and are in need of treatment. The Department provides numerous substance abuse treatment programs. One of these programs is Project Bridge, a residential substance abuse treatment program, whereby the goals are to reduce inmates’ rates of alcohol/drug relapse and recidivism (e.g., re-arrests, parole revocations). The program provides male inmates completing substance abuse treatment in correctional facilities the opportunity to continue treatment in a structured, modified therapeutic community setting.

The study data were collected during Project Bridge’s infancy (April 1998 through September 2000) and, as a result, are best considered as preliminary and suggestive. However, the program outcome data (high program completion rates coupled with low levels of relapse/recidivism) clearly lend support to the overall value of the program. Part of the report provides a process evaluation of the program’s implementation and documents several difficulties that Project Bridge had to contend with in order to achieve success. Many of these difficulties are fairly typical when establishing residential treatment programs, and it is hoped that the findings will prove helpful in improving Project Bridge and/or establishing similar programs.


Parole Decision Making in Hawaii:

 

Setting Minimum Terms, Approving Release, Deciding on
Revocation, and Predicting Success and Failure on Parole

August 16, 2001 – The Department of the Attorney General released a major study of prison sentence lengths, parole decision making, parolee recidivism, and other corrections-related information. The AG’s study, conducted in partnership with the University of Hawaii, was based on the records of 314 prisoners released to parole during Fiscal Year 1998 and tracked for 24 months post-release. Additional sentencing data were collected on offenders entering prison during January, March, May, and July of 2000. Parole hearings were observed and interviews were conducted with Hawaii Paroling Authority staff in order to examine the parole board’s decision-making processes, procedures, and objectives.

How does HPA policy affect time served? While the average maximum prison sentence length imposed by the courts decreased from 8.4 years for the 1997-98 parolee sample to 7.3 years for the 2000 sample, the average minimum sentence length as determined by the Hawaii Paroling Authority increased during the same period, from 3.1 years under the previous HPA administration to 4.1 years under the current administration. By offense type, the increase in minimum sentences was from 4.5 to 6.4 years for violent offenses, 2.2 to 3.2 years for property offenses, 2.6 to 2.7 years for drug offenses, and 2.7 to 2.8 years for “other” offenses. The average actual time served is about one-third longer than the minimum sentence and approximately 45% of the maximum sentence.

Profile of offenders. Among the study’s representative sample of parolees, the vast majority were males (86%); more often serving time for a property (40%) or violent (31%) offense than for a drug (24%) or other (6%) offense; had prior felony convictions (60%); were first convicted of a criminal offense before reaching 19 years of age (53%); and had a serious (78%) or moderate (13%) drug problem at the time they entered prison. These statistics are heavily influenced by the large number of male parolees, however, as female parolees on the whole differ markedly on many of these measures.

Predicting success and failure on parole. Two years after their release to parole, three-quarters of the parolees had no post-release convictions, 15% had misdemeanor convictions only, 7% had felony convictions only, and 3% had both felony and misdemeanor convictions. Of the parolees with a new felony conviction while on parole, most were for property or drug offenses.

Overall, about two-fifths of the sample were revoked on parole and returned to prison within 24 months of their release, and another 2% absconded and were suspended, for a total parole failure rate of 43%. Revocations were more often for failure to comply with parole regulations (60%) than for new convictions (40%). The great majority of revocations cited infractions of rules relating to the possession of controlled substances (usually illegal drugs), detection of drug use, failure to maintain contact with the parole officer or notify the HPA of a change of address, or absconding.

Statistically significant risk factors for parole revocation, while isolating each factor and holding the others constant, include the following:

Criminal History
(e.g., prior convictions or paroles, first conviction at an early age)
54% versus 34% revocation rates for high- versus low-risk parolees

Conventional Life Style
(e.g., drug use, quantity/quality of employment, suitability of companions)
53% versus 34% revocation rates for high- versus low-risk parolees

Personal Stability
(e.g., suitability of residence, marital/familial relationships, financial management skills)
49% versus 36% revocation rates for high- versus low-risk parolees

Human Capital
(e.g., educational/vocational skills, emotional stability, attitude toward personal change)
46% versus 40% revocation rates for high- versus low-risk parolees

Self-Control
(e.g., alcohol use, inappropriate sexual conduct)
46% versus 41% revocation rates for high- versus low-risk parolees

Having deficiencies in more than one of these areas greatly increases the odds for parole revocation.

HPA policy of correctional treatment. Considerations of community safety and appropriate legal response to serious law violation temper the HPA’s policy of correctional treatment. Both the view that criminal behavior can be corrected through appropriate programs, and the policy of promoting community safety by revoking parole when violations of regulations occur, lead to longer periods of incarceration. Length of time in prison is increased by setting longer minimum terms (to enable program completion), denying release at expiration of minimums when the board has reason to believe that a prisoner is not ready for release, and by revoking parole and returning parolees to incarceration. The HPA is aware that this impacts prison census, since returned parole violators, in Hawaii as elsewhere in the nation, comprise a rising percentage of prison admissions.

Based on information gathered during the course of conducting the study, the Attorney General’s report also offers several recommendations: 1) Funding should be provided for the purchase and installation of a modern case record information system for parole board actions and parolee supervision; 2) Funding should be provided for developing and implementing a reporting system for program operations and effectiveness, including follow-up and outcome assessment; 3) Purchase-of-service funds should be provided to the HPA in order to acquire treatment services for parolees determined to be in need of them; 4) Increased access to mental health services should be provided for parole supervision; and 5) Additional parole officer positions should be allocated to accommodate the larger volume of cases reviewed by HPA and assigned to parole supervision.


Firearm Registrations in Hawaii, 2000

April 4, 2001 – The Department of the Attorney General released a special report detailing state firearm registration statistics for Calendar Year 2000.

A total of 6,489 personal/private firearms permit applications were processed during 2000. Of these, 94.4% (6,128) resulted in issued permits; 3.7% (243) were approved but subsequently voided after the applicant failed to pick them up within a specified period; and 1.8% (118) were rejected for cause. Hawaii’s rejection rate compares favorably with the 3.0% figure reported for all state and local agencies using the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in 1999.

The 6,128 permits issued in 2000 cover a total of 13,617 registered firearms. More than half (53.0%, or 7,228) of these firearms were imported from out of state, with the remainder accounted for by in-state transfers.

Longarms (rifles and shotguns) accounted for 60.3% (8,210) of all firearms registered in 2000. Broken out further, rifles and shotguns comprised 44.3% (6,027) and 16.0% (2,183) of total registrations, respectively. The remainder of registered firearms (39.7%, or 5,407) were handguns. A considerably greater share of longarm permits (2.6% of all processed permits, or 93) than handgun permits (0.8%, or 25) were rejected for cause.

As compared to Hawaii’s resident population distribution, firearms permit applications were processed and rejected disproportionately across the four counties in 2000. Considerably fewer permits were processed in the City & County of Honolulu than would be expected based on its population size, and proportionately even fewer permits were rejected. Hawaii County recorded a 50% larger-than-expected share of processed permits and a proportion of rejections that is nearly double the anticipated figure. Permits were processed in Maui County in close proportion to its population size, while the proportion of rejections was 2.5 times larger than expected. Permits were processed and rejected in Kauai County in roughly equal proportion to the population size.


HYCF Project:
Incarcerated Juveniles and Recidivism in Hawaii

(February 2001)

In this report, the records of 805 youth released from the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF) during Calendar Years 1995-1999 are analyzed in order to provide a demographic profile of youth released from the facility. Records of a subset of these youth, 370 cases released during Fiscal Years 1996-1998, were obtained from the HYCF, county police departments and prosecutor’s offices, and the Department of the Attorney General. Records covering a two-year period following each youth’s last release within the study period are analyzed to calculate recidivism rates based on three measures: re-arrests, re-convictions, and re-confinements at either HYCF or a secure adult facility. These data are then explored in conjunction with the demographic data in order to provide further insight into the issue of recidivism.

Profile of youths released from the HYCF between CY1995-1999 (805 cases):

  • Males accounted for 83.4% of the youths, and females, 16.6%.
    Females were more likely than males to have suicide risk indicators (76.9% versus 56.9%, respectively) and to have escaped or run away from home or residential placements (83.8% versus 54.6%).
  • Hawaiian/part-Hawaiians accounted for nearly half of the youths (49.6%), mixed or other ethnicities for 22.9%, Caucasians for 9.4%, Filipinos for 7.1%, non-Hawaiian Pacific Islanders for 5.8%, Asians for 2.1%, and African-Americans for 1.2%.
    Non-Hawaiian Pacific Islanders and Hawaiian/part-Hawaiian youths were more likely to claim prior alcohol use (93.6% and 83.2%, respectively) than were those in the entire study group (81.7%).
  • Prior “ice” usage was higher for Filipinos (38.6%) and Hawaiian/part-Hawaiians (35.6%) than among the entire study group (32.5%).
  • Ethnicity was strongly correlated to gang membership. While only 20.5% of the entire study group claimed current or prior gang membership, 61.7% of non-Hawaiian Pacific Islanders, 40% of African-Americans, and 28.1% of Filipinos reported gang affiliation.
  • The greatest proportion of youths were committed during their ninth grade school year, 43.2%, and their tenth grade year, 23.8%. Eleventh grade commitments accounted for 11.2% of cases and twelfth grade for 6.7%; 86.0% of all commitments occurred during high school years.
  • Marijuana was the most commonly used substance (84.2% of youths admitting prior use), as compared to alcohol (81.7%) and “ice” (32.5%).
    Males were more likely than females to report prior alcohol (83.4% versus 72.7%, respectively) and marijuana (85.2% versus 78.8%) use, while a greater proportion of females reported prior “ice” use (46.2% versus 29.8%).

Analysis of the records of 370 youth released from the HYCF during Fiscal Years 1996-1998 revealed the following:

  • One-time commitments accounted for 59.5% of all releases, while 28.4% had been committed to the facility twice, 8.9% three times, and 3.2% four or more times.
  • Offenses against persons accounted for the greatest percentage of first-time commitments (38.7%). Commitments for probation revocation accounted for 27%, property offenses for 26.2%, drug offenses for 1.9%, status offenses for 1.1%, and other types of offenses for 5.2% of first-time commitments.
  • Sentences of 30 days or less accounted for 34.3% of first-time commitments, 31 to 365 days for 45.1%, minority commitments (age 18) for 13.5%, and commitments until age 19 for 6.2%.
  • Juveniles between the ages of 15 and 17 accounted for 71.7% of first-time commitments. Thirteen and fourteen year-olds accounted for 18.4% and eighteen and nineteen year-olds for 9.9%.

The following recidivism rates were calculated for a two-year post-release period for each youth:

  • 82.2% of released wards were re-arrested.
  • 57.3% of released wards were re-convicted.
  • 32.2% of released wards were re-confined at either HYCF or a secure adult facility.

A comparison of HYCF commitments and recidivism rates between Hawaii’s four counties shows:

  • A disproportionately low number of commitments (based on the state juvenile population distribution) and high recidivism rates from the City & County of Honolulu.
  • A proportionate number of commitments and low recidivism rates from Hawaii County.
  • A disproportionately high number of commitments and low recidivism rates from Kauai County.
  • A proportionate number of commitments and high recidivism rates from Maui County.

Differences in commitment figures and recidivism rates may be due to the types of juvenile offenders committed to the facility, the availability of sentencing alternatives, the extent of post-release supervision and aftercare, or other factors.

A comparison of the current study with a similar study published in 1984 reveals:

  • A higher arrest recidivism rate in the current study (82.2% versus 74.9% for the 1984 study).
  • A higher conviction recidivism rate in the current study (57.3% versus 53.7% for the 1984 study).
  • A slightly lower confinement recidivism rate in the current study (32.2% versus 33.3% for the 1984 study).
  • Statistically significant relationships between first commitment sentence length and confinement recidivism in both studies. This was the only variable that was significantly related to recidivism in both studies.

Recidivism measures were cross-tabulated with other variables to determine statistically significant relationships:

  • Total number of commitments, number of parole returns, number of escapes, and number of misconduct reports are significantly related to each of the three measures of recidivism (re-arrest, re-conviction, and re-confinement).
  • The number of runaways, age at first substance use, and number of siblings are significantly related to arrest recidivism.
  • The number of paroles, prior marijuana use, and number of suicide risk indicators are significantly related to conviction recidivism.
  • First commitment sentence length, percent of first sentence served, and age at first substance use are statistically related to confinement recidivism.

For most readers, the study’s key findings will be the high recidivism rates and that these rates have increased since the 1984 study. Of further concern, different methodologies employed in the two studies indicate a strong likelihood that, for comparison purposes, recidivism rates are either overstated in the 1984 study or understated in the current study. Thus there exists the strong possibility that recidivism has increased even more than is herein reported.

At the heart of the recidivism issue lies the debate between those who question the efficacy of rehabilitation efforts in the bleak setting of what is essentially a prison for children, and those who question the extent to which rehabilitation is a realistic goal given an extremely recalcitrant target population. It is not appropriate for objective researchers to play the role of staunch advocates for either position. However, while it is difficult to propose a “reasonable” recidivism rate for Hawaii’s small number of highest risk juvenile offenders, interested parties should take note of the study results and thoroughly consider whether or not the most effective methods available are being utilized to reduce recidivism among this population.

Also See:
HYCF Project: Data Assessment and Research Directions

(May 2000)

The purposes of this brief report are threefold: to provide a written assessment of available data to be used in the project; to discuss information provided by relevant juvenile justice agencies; and to consider subsequent research directions influenced by the aforementioned information. The report is also extremely useful as a data roadmap for other researchers interested in studying juvenile crime in Hawaii.


Domestic Violence in Hawaii:
Impact on Mothers and Their Children

October 23, 2000 – The Department of the Attorney General released a new crime-related report, Domestic Violence in Hawaii: Impact on Mothers and Their Children. The study, conducted in collaboration with the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Department of Psychology and a private consultant, investigates the psychological effects of domestic violence and how certain factors affect abused mothers’ decision-making with regard to maintaining or ending an abusive relationship. A discussion of the implications for Hawaii’s criminal justice system is also presented.

A total of 25 mothers and 25 children (one child per mother) were identified by domestic violence-focused service agencies in the community and referred for independent interviews and psychological assessment. The mothers and children had been out of the abusive relationships for at least six months, and on average for two years. Interviews were conducted to collect information on demographics, abuse experiences, maternal decision-making processes, and psychological difficulties. Psychological assessment of the mothers focused on symptoms of depression, dissociation, and other psychological effects of exposure to abuse, including posttraumatic stress disorder. In addition, the possible effects of exposure to domestic violence on parenting skills were formally assessed. Children were interviewed about their memories of abuse, their own exposure to physical and sexual abuse, and their attempts to intervene in order to stop the violence. The psychological assessment of the children focused on assessing posttraumatic symptoms.

The mothers generally reported exposure to extreme levels of verbal and physical abuse (and sometimes sexual assault) by their intimate partners; that their children were often present to witness this abuse; that the presence of children only modestly reduced the abusers’ tendencies for abuse; and that they recognized that exposure to domestic violence could negatively affect their children’s psychological health. Distressingly, only a third of the mothers had sought psychological services for their children, indicating a general need to encourage early utilization of assessment and treatment services.

About half of the mothers and children showed symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), demonstrating the need for effective mental health interventions for these families. There was no apparent relationship between the likelihood of PTSD in the mothers and the likelihood of PTSD in their children. This suggests the need for separate and independent assessments of each party, regardless of symptoms observed in the other. Children whose mothers had PTSD did, however, show significant patterns of dissociation from their environments. These symptoms could affect behavior outside the home, such as in the classroom.

PTSD in the mothers was associated with numerous indicators of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dysfunction, including depression, dissociation, anger, and reduced scores on measures of parenting skills, thus showing both the broad and specific effects of this disorder. Mothers with PTSD also underestimated the distressing effects that witnessing abuse would have on their children, and were less likely to seek psychological assistance for their children.

A desire to keep the family intact (i.e., with a father) was the most frequent reason the mothers gave for initially remaining in their abusive relationships. Concern for the safety of their children and personal emotional degradation ranked highest among their reasons for ultimately leaving the relationships.

The prevalence of serious psychological disturbances and other difficulties observed in the study participants leads to a number of recommendations for interacting with this population.

First, traumatic exposure to domestic abuse disrupts wide areas of functioning. This suggests the need to develop specialized services to provide empirically-validated treatment. Such services might be provided by a domestic violence response team including psychologists, social workers, and other trained mental health professionals. Psychological, emotional, and behavioral difficulties in both direct and indirect victims of domestic violence should be treated at the earliest possible stage of intervention in order to forestall the emergence of more serious effects and problems

Second, an early detection policy aimed at identifying symtomatology in children who witness domestic violence should be fully implemented. This system should include (1) systematic training of law enforcement personnel, as they are often the first outsiders to come into contact with a family affected by domestic violence, and (2) initial psychological assessments of mothers and their children conducted by a domestic violence response team at the time of police intervention or initiation of temporary restraining orders. These assessments should minimally screen for evidence of acute stress disorder as a precursor to longer term dysfunction, including posttraumatic stress disorder.

Third, most of the mothers endured emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in the belief that they were sacrificing themselves in order to provide their children with the perceived benefits of growing up in a family with a father. It was often only when their children’s safety became an issue that they decided to leave the abuser. Most women stated that they had little access to information regarding the effects of abuse on their children. This strongly suggests that media information efforts should be developed to inform mothers that the impact of domestic violence on their children vastly outweighs any perceived negative effects of leaving an abuser.

The research was conducted by Dr. Claude Chemtob of the Pacific Behavioral Services Corp. and the Veteran’s Administration in Hawaii, and Dr. John Carlson of the Department of Psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The Attorney General’s Research & Statistics Branch, Crime Prevention & Justice Assistance Division, administrated the project and published the final report. The project was funded through a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Access to study participants was provided by the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse and Legal Hotline.


Reporting Sexual Assault to the Police in Hawaii

August 11, 2000 – Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported serious crimes. What factors affect sexual assault victims’ decision to report or not report these crimes to the police? Can this information be used to encourage reporting or to design effective interventions by treatment centers and community education projects? What are the implications for community policing and other criminal justice initiatives? A cooperative study by the Social Science Research Institute and the School of Social Work at the University of Hawaii and the Crime Prevention & Justice Assistance Division of the Department of the Attorney General seeks to answer these questions.


Compliance and Sanctions in the Community:
Felony Probation in Hawaii, 1996-1999

July 6, 2000 – The Department of the Attorney General released a new crime report, Compliance and Sanctions in the Community: Felony Probation in Hawaii, 1996-1999. The report provides a statistical snapshot of 1,465 felony probationers, tracks them for up to three years after sentencing, and identifies several factors that are correlated with success or failure on probation.

While many felony probationers are sentenced for violent crimes (28 percent), the majority are sentenced for property offenses (37 percent) or drug offenses (27 percent). Two-thirds of felony probationers have no previous felony convictions. The average age of felony probationers is 33, with about one-quarter age 25 or younger and, on the upper end, about one-quarter age 40 or above. Twenty percent of felony probationers are women.

Within three years of starting their probation sentences, the majority of probationers (69 percent) are not arrested, 20 percent are arrested on misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor charges, and 11 percent are arrested on felony charges. About two-thirds of the felony arrests are for Felony C charges and one-third for the more serious Felony A or B charges. Among those arrested while on probation, 62 percent are arrested once or twice and 21 percent are arrested five or more times.

Felony probationers are found to be in violation of the rules of probation 42% of the time. Almost four-fifths (78 percent) of these transgressions are technical violations (failing urinalysis testing, missing appointments with a probation officer, etc.), with the remainder comprised of convictions for new criminal offenses. Violating the terms of probation can lead to probation revocation, followed by a new, longer and more restrictive probation sentence (66 percent), or incarceration (34 percent).

Probation officers assess probationers on a series of standard “risk/need” measures. The study’s statistical analysis identified several specific measures that can be used to determine the odds of probation revocation. Net of the assessment on other measures, a “low score” on any of the following measures increases the likelihood that probation will be revoked:

  • regular, legal employment and a stable residence (1.77 to 1 odds of revocation for probationers with poor employment and residence histories versus those with stable jobs and long-term residences.)
  • prior criminal record (1.67 to 1 odds of revocation for probationers with extensive criminal histories and/or first convictions at an early age.)
  • psychological and attitudinal problems (1.62 to 1 odds of revocation for probationers rated as having poor marital/familial relationships, emotional problems, an unwillingness to accept responsibility, and/or being unmotivated for personal change.)
  • chemical dependency (1.27 to 1 odds of revocation for probationers with drug and alcohol problems. The high prevalence of alcohol and drug use among the probation population diminishes the predictive power of this measure.)
  • “human capital” (1.18 to 1 odds of revocation for probationers with poor educational, vocational, and/or intellectual skills.) 

The field research was conducted by Dr. Gene Kassebaum, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Sociology, University of Hawaii at Manoa. The final report was prepared in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Research & Statistics Branch, Crime Prevention & Justice Assistance Division (CPJAD). The Research & Statistics Branch funded and oversaw the project through a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Access to statewide data and other information was provided by the Adult Probation Division of the Circuit Court of the First Circuit.


Drug Offense Arrests in Hawaii, 1982-1998

(May 2000)

The Department of the Attorney General released a report detailing drug offense arrests in Hawaii from 1982-1998. Based on Uniform Crime Report data, the publication details drug arrests in Hawaii by county, age, gender, race/ethnicity, and offense category. The report’s 17-year study period is intended as an update to a 15-year report released two years ago.

Total drug offense arrests in Hawaii increased sharply from 1982-1985 and have since shown relatively steady decreases. There were 4.1% fewer drug arrests reported in 1998 than in 1982 (3,163 versus 3,298 arrests, respectively).

Adult drug arrests generally declined since the mid-1980s to reach a record low level in 1998. Juvenile drug arrests hovered in the 700-900 range throughout the entire study period, except during the 1989-1994 period when they were approximately halved.

Arrests of adult males for drug offenses in 1998 totaled 3.1 times the number of adult females arrested. Among juveniles, 3.4 males were arrested for every female.

Statewide arrests for the manufacture/sale of illegal drugs increased 39.7% during the study period, from 446 in 1982 to 623 in 1998. Possession arrests increased 62.0% from 1982 to 1985, from 2,852 to 4,620 arrests, but have since fallen 45.0% to reach 2,540 arrests in 1998. In sum, possession arrests fell 10.9% during the study period.

Drug arrest trends varied among Hawaii’s four counties. Adult arrests decreased significantly in the City & County of Honolulu while juvenile arrests were generally more stable. In Hawaii County, both adult and juvenile drug arrests showed pronounced peaks in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. Maui County recorded steadily increasing adult drug arrests throughout the study period while juvenile arrests increased to a lesser degree. Kauai County experienced tremendous variability in drug arrests from year to year, with discernible peaks in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s.

Data from 1998 show that, in comparison to resident population figures, drug arrests were disproportionately low in the City & County of Honolulu (with 73.1% of the state population and 63.1% of the drug arrests), and disproportionately high in Maui County (10.1% and 16.6%, respectively) and Hawaii County (12.0% and 15.5%, respectively). Kauai County, with 4.7% of the state population in 1998, reported 4.5% of the drug arrests.

In the nation as a whole, the drug offense arrest rate was lower than Hawaii’s rate from 1982-1986. In 1987, the U.S. rate exceeded Hawaii’s rate and continued to increase to over twice the Hawaii rate by 1998.