Earlier this month, Hawaii enacted Senate Bill 2964, which—among other measures—changed the penal code to raise the felony theft threshold for the first time since 1986, from $300 to $750. This policy was originally recommended by The Council of State Governments Justice Center in 2014 as part of a justice reinvestment policy framework. Prior to this change, the state’s felony threshold was the fifth lowest in the country. To inform its decision, the legislature considered the felony theft thresholds of neighboring states and the fact that the existing threshold was not keeping pace with inflation. By raising it, Hawaii’s prison population and associated expenses could be reduced. To address the potential effect increased thresholds could have on frequent victims of property crime, such as retail businesses, the legislature improved enforcement of laws regarding “habitual property crime perpetrators,” expanded the definition of this group to include more repeat theft and forgery offenders, and put measures into place to hold them accountable for more prior convictions.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2010-RR-BX-K071 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
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