by Lt. Governor Duke Aiona
As acting governor in May of this year, I signed two bills that seek to protect Hawai`i children from the hazards of the Internet and dangerous drugs.
The first of the two measures took effect immediately and is a direct response to Internet predators who have been invading homes across our state.
We expect to meet the threat with tougher laws against people who use the Internet to commit sexual acts against minors.
Since 2004, at least 25 people have been arrested or prosecuted in our state for enticing a child over the Internet. And the Hawai`i Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is actively investigating other complaints.
While parenting is still the best way to protect a child, we acknowledge our obligation to help protect children who are being contacted and seduced by online sexual predators.
We recognize the need for stricter enforcement of laws against Internet predators. We also recognize the need to strengthen registry requirements for sex offenders who have committed crimes against minors.
The new law sends a clear message to these predators: law enforcement agents are looking for you, and if you are convicted you will receive a mandatory ten-year prison sentence.
The other bill that I signed into law takes effect July 1, and makes it illegal to cause a minor to inhale, ingest or inject a dangerous drug.
The bill is the result of young children found and removed from meth labs, where they were exposed to the ingredients of this dangerous drug.
It also expands the crimes of endangering a minor and promises tougher penalties for adults who allow anyone under age 18 to inject, ingest or inhale controlled substances not prescribed by a physician.
This bill was signed into law at a time when we have seen a decrease in clandestine “ice” labs in the state, from as many as 17 in 2005 to only two last year.
This statistic represents strong evidence that the state’s fight against crystal methamphetamine is working.
It arises from a collaborative effort, which we know is the most effective means of protecting our children and enforcing the law.
And we will continue to work with federal and local law enforcement, with industry, and with public groups to identify other ways to protect our children.