LIHUE — Justin Kollar said he wants to work as hard as he can to build a criminal justice system that the Kauai community can believe and trust in.
It’s one reason he’s running for re-election for Kauai County prosecutor.
“I’m asking for your vote for an open, accountable and transparent criminal justice system that works for everyone on Kauai,” said the 42-year-old Wailua resident. “We’ve accomplished a lot over the past four years in terms of earning the community’s trust as a criminal justice system and we can continue to build on those successes moving into the future because there is so much more that we can do.”
The biggest problem that threatens the island is the lack of opportunity for young people to remain on Kauai and make a life here, he said.
“The cost of living and shortage of housing and good jobs makes our children want to leave,” Kollar said. “In a global economy, there is no reason Kauai cannot be a competitor if we give our young people a solid education and the confidence that they can follow their dreams and stay here in the process.”
Kollar, who was first elected to office in 2012 after defeating incumbent Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, said Kauai residents usually come to him when they feel like the system is not listening to them.
“I am glad to play that role in helping to make a system that actually listens and responds to constituent concerns,” Kollar said.
In the next four years, Kollar said he wants to address “the drug houses in our community that affect our quality of life, making it easier for domestic violence victims and survivors to escape the cycle of violence they find themselves enmeshed in, and providing a way out for addicts who want to get better.”
The husband and father of one said he will also provide “swift and meaningful consequences for the predators who want to make addicts out of our children.”
To battle the growing methamphetamine problem on Kauai, Kollar said an experienced drug prosecutor in his office, who has more than a decade of experience, will look at these types of cases.
“We are also working to establish a Drug Nuisance Abatement Unit to address the problem of drug houses in our neighborhoods,” Kollar said. “However, the fact is that this problem will not go away until we give our young people the life skills and opportunities that will keep them from going down the road of drug addiction.”
The Suffolk University Law School graduate said incarceration, although very important, is just one aspect of justice.
“It should be used when someone is a threat to the community and the incarceration is necessary for public safety, not just to pad a prosecutor’s statistics or make a good headline,” Kollar said. “We as a community cannot incarcerate our way out of the problems we face — if only it were that easy.”
Kollar said he would “balance the need for punitive sanctions with the likelihood of rehabilitation, the need to achieve restitution for the victims, and also balance in other mitigating or exacerbating factors at play in each specific case in deciding what ‘justice’ means for that case.”
Common in every courtroom, a plea deal is not appropriate when it does not result in a just outcome, Kollar said.
“I analogize what we do to emergency room work. Our cases are like patients,” he said. “We take them as they come to us, no matter how sick they are, and we do our best given the facts and circumstances of each case. The most important thing is to hire talented, diligent and humble individuals with good judgment.”
Kollar, who oversees 15 deputy prosecutors, said he is proud of his staff and his office.
“The volume of criminal justice work requires plea bargaining, and any prosecutor who says they don’t or won’t plea bargain is, at best, unrealistic, or at worst, pandering,” he said.