By the CSG Justice Center Staff
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.