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Pennsylvania Legislators Consider Policy Options to Avert Prison Growth, Improve Outcomes for People with Mental Illness June 29, 2007

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State Republican and Democratic leaders in the Pennsylvania General Assembly recently requested analysis from the Council of State Governments Justice Center to determine why the prison population is growing and to develop cost-effective strategies to manage this growth.

On Monday, June 4, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees held a rare joint hearing at which Dr. Tony Fabelo (senior research consultant to the Justice Center) and Dr. Fred Osher (the Justice Center’s director of health systems and services policy) presented analysis of the factors driving the growth of Pennsylvania’s prison population. The experts also outlined several policy options that could have an immediate impact on the growth.

Among the factors contributing to the state’s prison growth, Dr. Fabelo cited county jail overcrowding, limited in-prison program capacity, high rates of revocation among people under community supervision, and the underutilization of state-based diversion strategies, such as the State Intermediate Punishment program.

To meet the challenges presented by this burgeoning prison population, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) proposes a $700 million expansion plan, which includes the construction of three new prisons. During the hearing, however, Dr. Fabelo pointed out that even if the General Assembly approves the PDOC expansion plans, the Department will still be short approximately 9,279 beds by 2013.

Using data gathered in cooperation with various state agencies, Dr. Fabelo recommended several policy options that, if adopted, could reduce this capacity shortfall. These recommendations include:

Dr. Osher also presented the findings of three fiscal impact studies of collaborative criminal justice/mental health diversion programs. The studies, commissioned by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2003, were intended to inform the development of a statewide strategy that would address the growing number of people with mental illnesses coming into contact with the criminal justice system. The studies found that diversion programs can increase public safety, help people with mental illnesses succeed in the community, and save taxpayers money. In light of the study findings, Dr. Osher recommended that the Pennsylvania General Assembly provide a small amount of funding for a statewide competitive grant program to promote and replicate such programs across the state. Officials from the PDOC, the Board of Probation and Parole, and the Department of Public Welfare testified in support of this grant program.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center provides technical assistance to Pennsylvania policymakers with the support of the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project, and the National Institute of Corrections.

For more information on the projected growth of Pennsylvania’s prison population, strategies to manage this growth, and copies of the presentation and testimonies given at the June 4 hearing, please visit the Justice Reinvestment project website.


Senate Judiciary Committee Mark-up Scheduled for Second Chance Act June 27, 2007

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The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled the mark-up for S. 1060, the Second Chance Act, for Thursday, June 28, 2007. The bill is the first piece of comprehensive legislation designed to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and help ensure the safe and successful return of prisoners to the community.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Second Chance Act of 2007, H.R. 1593, when the members of Congress return after the Fourth of July recess.

The Second Chance Act authorizes up to $65 million dollars in grants to state and local governments to develop initiatives to address the various obstacles faced by individuals returning to their communities from prison or jail and a $15 million re-entry program for community and faith-based organizations to deliver mentoring and transitional services for people returning from prison or jail.

For more information on the SCA, please click here or contact Sara Paterni.


Felons lose legal fight over DNA June 23, 2007

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Requiring felons to submit DNA samples is not an unreasonable search or seizure, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled Thursday. Oregon law requires taking DNA samples of felons to put in a database used to help solve crimes.

Travis Ray Sanders was convicted of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer in a motor vehicle, a felony. Sanders claimed the requirement violated his federal and state constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The lower courts rejected his claims.




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After getting beaten as many times and as soundly as Kevin Mannix, most politicians would hang it up.

Not Mannix. He dusted himself off, squared his shoulders and jumped foursquare into the most powerful avenue available to him.

At the rate he’s going, Mannix stands to become Oregon’s newest ballot measure mogul, with at least six initiatives that have a decent chance of making the November 2008 ballot.

His proposals include longer prison sentences for identity thieves and burglars, stronger regulation of strip clubs, diversion of state lottery profits for crime fighting and a $400 tax credit for families with children in school.

“I’m not filing stuff, for the hell of it, or just needing attention,” a visibly relaxed Mannix says over a cup of coffee at the Capitol’s basement cafe. He wears a sport coat with the plaid dress shirt open at the collar. As always, his smile suggests he knows more than he’s telling. “You want to do that, issue a press release. I’m interested in results.”

Results — at least lately — haven’t been Mannix’s strong suit. The last time he was elected to serve in one of the big chambers upstairs it was still the 20th century. Attempts to move up went badly. He ran for attorney general as a Democrat in 1996 and lost in the primary. He switched to the Republican Party and ran up a string of losses — attorney general in 2000, governor in 2002 and another try for governor in 2006.

Mannix shrugs those off as adventures that didn’t pan out. He says he’s now part of “the People’s Assembly.”

“Sure, I’m not a party leader, I’m not a legislator, I’m not a candidate. I’ve got some time to work on some issues I care about.”

Time and money. Loren Parks, the wealthy medical equipment entrepreneur who has paid millions for ballot measures, has pulled out his checkbook again to help Mannix with his anti-crime measures.

And Mannix is knocking on other doors as well. He says he’s talked to four national organizations in his search for money to pay for his initiatives and has flown east to make a personal pitch. He won’t name the groups. He says they want to see some progress on the measures before committing.

“He’s very tenacious,” says Patty Wentz, who works for Our Oregon, a labor-backed group that tracks and sometimes opposes initiatives and ballot measures. “No matter how many times voters reject him, he keeps coming back.”

Perhaps Mannix’s biggest victory was the 1994 passage of Measure 11, which he spearheaded. The measure dramatically changed Oregon’s criminal justice system by requiring longer mandatory prison terms for violent felons. Wentz sees an attempt by Mannix to regain some of that stature.



State prison meals get an ‘acceptable’ review June 14, 2007

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Oregon inmates complain about the food, and the state prison system’s former food buyer is expected to be charged soon with taking illegal kickbacks.

But the food served to Oregon’s 13,000 prison inmates is “acceptable,” according to a report released Wednesday. “Inmates are provided with nutritionally adequate meals that are prepared and served in a manner that meets established governmental health and safety codes,” the report concluded.

Max Williams, Oregon Department of Corrections director, promised to look into prison food, its quality and handling after federal agents in January revealed their investigation of Fred Monem, who was the state’s food buyer at the time. Monem had been praised over the years for saving the state money by getting good deals on the “spot market.” But federal court documents include accusations that he took more than $1 million in bribes from companies that sold food close to its pull date. Monem has been fired. He is expected to be charged soon.

Several food brokers who accused Monem of taking kick-backs are cooperating with federal investigators. Meanwhile, the outside review team appointed by Williams completed its report. And while giving the food a passing grade, the committee did make some recommendations, including regular inspections, a food-borne illness prevention program, and increased consistency of menus and recipes.

The review team reached its conclusions after conducting unannounced kitchen visits and informal discussions with staff and inmates.


Studies say death penalty deters crime June 11, 2007

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Anti-death penalty forces have gained momentum in the past few years, with a moratorium in Illinois, court disputes over lethal injection in more than a half-dozen states and progress toward outright abolishment in New Jersey.

The steady drumbeat of DNA exonerations — pointing out flaws in the justice system — has weighed against capital punishment. The moral opposition is loud, too, echoed in Europe and the rest of the industrialized world, where all but a few countries banned executions years ago.

What gets little notice, however, is a series of academic studies over the last half-dozen years that claim to settle a once hotly debated argument — whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. The analyses say yes. They count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer.

The reports have horrified death penalty opponents and several scientists, who vigorously question the data and its implications.

So far, the studies have had little impact on public policy. New Jersey’s commission on the death penalty this year dismissed the body of knowledge on deterrence as “inconclusive.”

But the ferocious argument in academic circles could eventually spread to a wider audience, as it has in the past.

“Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it,” said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. “The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect.”

A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. “The results are robust, they don’t really go away,” he said. “I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?”

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory — if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

To explore the question, they look at executions and homicides, by year and by state or county, trying to tease out the impact of the death penalty on homicides by accounting for other factors, such as unemployment data and per capita income, the probabilities of arrest and conviction, and more.

Among the conclusions:

• Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five and 14).

• The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

• Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.



Thank you for your help June 5, 2007

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After several requests by readers, we have created a way for you to be able to help with our website expenses. Simply click the button above and you will be taken to a secure server. Thank you so much for your support!


Grand jury to see IDs, records in abuse case June 2, 2007

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Supreme Court – An anesthesiologist is accused of sexually abusing sedated women in a Portland office

The state Supreme Court told a Portland oral surgeon Friday to hand over medical records of two female patients to a Multnomah County grand jury that will decide whether to charge an anesthesiologist with sexually abusing the women after sedating them.

The oral surgeon, Jay P. Malmquist, had refused for more than a year to identify the two patients to a grand jury for fear that the women would refuse to seek further treatment if they knew that anesthesiologist David O. Burleson had touched them inappropriately.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Ronald Cinniger had agreed with Malmquist and shielded him from providing the patients’ names. Cinniger said the risk to the patients outweighed the grand jury’s need for their names, and the district attorney could seek Burleson’s indictment without the names.

In February, the district attorney asked the Supreme Court to review Cinniger’s ruling, and in a unanimous decision issued Friday, the high court decided that the names were necessary to the investigation.

The ruling, written by Chief Justice Paul J. De Muniz, said: “As a matter of diligence, the prosecutor must identify victims and interview them about facts likely to lead to the production of admissible evidence. The identity of victims of crime is the most basic kind of evidence given at trial.”

Malmquist’s lawyer, Marc Blackman, said Friday, “We will certainly comply with the decision.”

Deputy District Attorney Christine Mascal has said she needs to talk with the patients to learn what they remember about their experience with Burleson. The patients’ recollections could determine the severity of the charge that a grand jury might return.

A person can be charged with third-degree sex abuse, a misdemeanor, if the victim simply does not consent to the sexual contact. But if the victim is in a “physically helpless” condition, the charge is first-degree sexual abuse, a Measure 11 crime that carries a penalty upon conviction of more than six years in prison.



The Crime that Changed Punishment

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This story was published in the Willamette Week on September 23, 1996

Lead Story

In 1992, Steve Doell’s daughter was killed. Since then his rage has helped transform Oregon.
By Maureen O’Hagan
Her name was Lisa Doell.
Just 12 years old, she was a star pupil at Waluga Junior High who dreamed of becoming an actress. She had just gotten off the school bus that October afternoon in 1992 and was walking along Lake Oswego’s North Shore Drive.
The car struck her from behind. Within two blocks of her grandmother’s house, she was killed instantly by the impact. The teenager behind the wheel sped away.
When police caught up with 16 year-year-old Andrew Whitaker, he explained how it happened. He just “homed in,” stepped on the accelerator and ran her down. “It wasn’t an accident,” Whitaker told the police. “I did it on purpose.” He had even bragged to a friend about the dent in his father’s silver Oldsmobile.
The crime was bad enough. The punishment only added to the horror. Instead of intentional murder, a jury found Whitaker guilty of manslaughter, which under state law carried a minimum sentence of three years.
Thirty-six months didn’t seem like much when weighed against a girl’s life. Especially at a time when fear of violence was sweeping the country, when politicians were duking it out to win the tough-on-crime crown, and when Oregon’s criminal justice system was already under fire.
“In that kind of atmosphere, sometimes a very small spark can cause a large explosion,” says Dick Springer, who at the time served on the state Senate Judiciary Committee. “That’s kind of how I would see Lisa Doell’s death.
Her father’s grief and rage have been part of the fuel. For five years, Steve Doell has played a central role in a kind of people’s revolution. Last year, he became head of Crime Victims United, an advocacy group that—since his daughter’s death—has had a remarkable success in shaping crime policy in this state by taking power away from elected officials and putting it in the hands of voters.
In the last four years, five silver-bullet ballot measures—two of which were crafted specifically with Lisa Doell in mind—have steamrolled years of legislation and precedent.
Love it or hate it, the influence that crime victims like Steve Doell have had in changing this state’s priorities in undeniable.
Need proof? Since 1993, the combined budget for the Department of Corrections and the Oregon Youth Authority has almost doubled—from $440 million to $836 million.
This November, Doell, 48, will take an even more public role as a co-sponsor of Measure 61, which will take the revolution one step further by lengthening sentences for 35 different crimes. Most observers expect Measure 61 to pass if it reaches the ballot, although the state Supreme Court is now considering a signature-count challenge by opponents.
While Oregon’s justice system now determined the same way as it’s tax policy is—through the initiative process—it’s tie to take a look at the clout of one grief-stricken dad.
Just over ten years ago, Oregon’s system of crime and punishment was a joke. We hadn’t added a prison bed in years. Because of overcrowding, virtually all prisoners were released at least six months before their scheduled parole dates, and some inmates were given temporary leave to make room for the endless supply of new convicts. “There was a gigantic gap between what was being said in the courtroom and what was actually happening,” Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk recalled. “(In some cases), 10-year sentences were really 60 days. It was ridiculous.”
There was also a problem with equity. While there were maximum sentences on state law books, judges had tremendous leeway in doling out punishment. For example, a thief from Coos Bay might be sentenced to five years behind bars while one in Portland would get a short stint in jail.
In 1987, the Criminal Justice Council, a committee of prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, probation officers, legislators and citizens, embarked on what would become a two year project to transform that broken system.
They came up with a system called Sentencing Guidelines. It was essentially a new scale of justice that weighed the need to punish offenders, particularly violent ones, against the desire to keep prison sending at a reasonable level.
Under the guidelines, sentences were standardized across the state, although judges still had the power to tailor those sentences to individual offenders using specific criteria.
Most important, in 1988 then Gov. Neil Goldschmidt reluctantly agreed to build hundreds of new prison beds (a promise that was later followed through by his successors) so that offenders would serve their full sentences. Parole, the bane of crime victims, was eliminated.
Oregon’s sentencing guidelines were considered about the best in the country,” says Multnomah County Presiding Judge James Ellis, who worked on the committee.
There was just one problem: Even with the new prison cells, there wasn’t room for everybody at the inn, so some sentences still seemed too lenient. For example, the standard sentence for a car thieves was generally probation, possibly including some jail time—even for two-time offenders. Some violent offenders could receive probation if they had no prior offenses.
But without building even more prison beds—something few in the Legislature had the stomach for—the sentences couldn’t change.
The story of the disturbed teenager and the girl he killed helped convince voters to take matters into their own hands.
In the summer of 1992, Steve Doell was floundering. After working in sales and marketing at Tenneco for 15 years, he was without a job. The company offered him a promotion, but it would have required moving to Los Angeles. “It was either up or out,” he recalls. He chose the latter because he wanted to stay in Lake Oswego near his two children, Lisa and her older brother, Scott, who were living with their mother. The couple had divorced three years earlier .
At the time, Doell figured he would find a new career in a related field. Then, on October 21, he got the awful news: Lisa had been killed by a hit-and-run driver.
The next 12 months were torture for the Doells. They endured a seven-day remand hearing to determine whether Whitaker should be tried in juvenile court. “It was very long and very painful,” Steve Doell says. “You have to listen to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists saying why [defendants] area just real good people who were having a bad day. That’s very painful to the family.” In the end, the judge sided with the prosecution. Whitaker would face trial as an adult.
Then, the Doells sat through a eight-day trial and three days of jury deliberation. In the end, Whitaker was found innocent of intentional murder, despite the fact that he told police he had run the girl over on purpose. He was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, a crime which under Sentencing Guidelines carried a maximum sentence of 36 months.
Steve Doell decided to fight. He joined Crime Victims United, and advocacy and support group headed at the time by Bob and Dee Dee Kouns. The couple, now retired, began working on crime issues in 1980, after their daughter Valerie disappeared in California. (Her body has never been found, and no one has been prosecuted for the crime.) Today, the group has about 800 members statewide, only about 25 to 50 of whom are active. “It’s run on a very thin dime,” Doell says. He says he relies on a settlement from his daughter’s death to pay his bills.
CVU worked to change the justice system on two fronts: through the legislature and through the initiative process. Legislature successes were few; CVU was often blocked by Democrats who were in control of both chambers until 1991. The group did get several initiatives approved by voters—for example, a victims’ rights measure in 1986—but these were insulated victories in a climate otherwise unreceptive to getting tough on crime.
From the early 90’s, that all changed.
In 1994, the country underwent the Republican revolution, as Democrats were tossed from office nationwide. In 1995, Republicans gained control of both chambers of the Oregon Legislature, giving CVU a more receptive audience.
In addition, inmates who were convicted before the Sentencing Guidelines took effect were still being released early. Publicity over these released—and the growing fear of crime—played into CVU’s hands. And, of course, there was the story of Lisa Doell.

By 1994, the political climate was ripe for crime fighters. Then state Rep. Kevin Mannix, an ambitious Democrat from Salem (who is now running as a Republican), jumped on the opportunity. He proposed a triumvirate of ballot

Measures—10, 11 and 1 7—that would dramatically alter the way justice was meted out in this state.
Measure 11 was the most sweeping of the three. It required long minimum sentences for certain crimes, including robbery, rape and murder, and it applied to first-time offenses. It also required offenders as young as 15 to be treated as adults—a provision Mannix says he added with Whitaker’s grueling remand hearing in mind.
Doell’s daughter was a key player in the campaign.
Lisa’s death was mentioned in radio ads, in the Voter’s Pamphlet and in editorial boardrooms. “We heard a lot about Lisa Doell and her circumstances,” recalls Ingrid Swenson, a Portland defense lawyer who fought the measure.
For example, Lisa’s paternal grandfather, Edward Doell penned this Voters’ Pamphlet statement: “My beautiful 12 year-old granddaughter, Lisa Marie Doell, was murdered October 21, 1992 in a violent and random act…If your family were victimized by violent crime, which sentence would you want imposed on the criminal?”
Opponents of the measure were unable to counter such volatile emotional fuel. It passed overwhelmingly, with 65 percent of the votes in favor, thereby tossing out a large portion of the Sentencing Guidelines. Judges could no longer tailor the sentences to the crime. Without this discretion, they were, as one prosecutor said, “like potted plants in the courtroom.”
“Measure 11 is the gorilla that ate the whole system,” Swenson says. “It runs the whole show here.”
That same year, 675 percent of voters approved Measure 10, which prevents the Legislature from overturning any part of Measure 11 without a two-thirds majority. And 70 percent of voters passed Measure 17, which required all state inmates to work full time to earn their keep.
If the justice system was knocked upside down in 1994, it was given another stiff kick two years later.
In 1996, CVU pushed for Measure 26 and 40. Once again, Lisa Doell was a key figure in the campaigns. Steve Doell even helped to write one of the measures with his daughter in mind.
A Voters’ Pamphlet statement in favor of Measure 26, which eliminates the Constitution’s prohibition against “vindictive justice”, read: “Remember the horrific story of a teenage boy who purposely ran over a young girl simply for the thrill of doing it?” The statement was signed by Sen. Gorden Smith, Rep. Chuck Carpenter and Rep. Beverly Clarno.
Doell took particular interest in the crafting and passage of Measure 40, called a crime victims’ “bill of rights.” Among other things, the measure allows 11-1 jury verdicts in murder cases (instead of only unanimous verdicts)and changes the rules of evidence—provisions that stemmed directly from his daughter’s case.
Both initiatives passed with overwhelming margins, although portions of Measure 40 have since been thrown out by the state Supreme Court.
Taken in combination, says Emily Simon, a Portland defense lawyer, the measures have amounted to “virtually a revolution in the way in which the criminal justice system works.”
Like the Kounses before him, Doell has also worked another angle—the Legislature.
“He’s a pretty tireless guy,” says Mark Gardner, special counsel to the attorney general. “He’s [at the Capitol] all the time. He’s lobbying and lobbying and lobbying.”
Observers in Salem have mixed opinions about his skills. Some, like former Rep. John Minnis, say he’s a “very articulate man” who knows how the political game is played. Rep. Peter Courtney calls him “a CEO type” and a “force to be reckoned with.”
Others call him awkward and criticize his stiff demeanor and his sometimes unyielding disposition. One lawyer describes his as an “ice man with a volcano underneath.”
“It’s a mystery to me where this guy gets his power,” says Portland defense lawyer Paul Levy. Who has testified on criminal-justice issues in Salem. “I’m not sure it is him. I think it’s what he represents: the fear of crime.”
That’s not a concept many politicians want to be seen as knocking. “I know how politicians and candidates fear [Doell] and worry about him,” Courtney says.

In addition to lobbying, Doell dabbles in electoral politics. For example, Eugene legislator Karsten Rasmussen lost a reelection bid in 1994 after he was blitzed with eight straight days of radio ads branding him as soft on crime. Doell read the script, which mentioned his daughters death.

“That is the kind of thing that sends ripples through [the Capitol].” Said one Legislature-watcher.
Doell has also had influence in judicial appointments. Henry H. Lazenby Jr., the governor’s legal counsel, says that “we weigh [CVU’s viewpoint] along with other opinions” when closing judges. Dick Springer, who was seeking appointment as a referee in late 1997, thinks Doell’s influence may be more significant.
“He appeared twice before the Supreme Court to testify and present written testimony that really blistered me as an enemy of the people because I had chosen to disagree with him.” Springer says. The court chose not to appoint Springer as a pro term judge. (Some say that he wouldn’t have gotten the job with or without Doell, and in fact a bar committee did not recommend him.)
This year, Doell and former Rep. Bob Tiernan decided to take their concerns over individual judges to a broader level by sponsoring a ballot initiative that would have drastically changed the way they were elected. Lawyers were so worried about this measure that they formed a P A C and quickly raised almost $60,000. to try to block it. At the last minute, Doell and Tiernan withdrew the measure but threatened judges with bringing it back in 2000. The District Attorneys Association, which has benefited from crime victims’ initiatives, was the only major group of lawyers not to oppose the measure.
Steve Doell and his supporters acknowledge that they have revolutionized the way justice is doled out in Oregon. And they argue their efforts have been effective in reducing crime.
In fact, the violent crime rate has declined since 1994. “There were 12,000 Oregonians who weren’t raped, murdered, assaulted or robbed because Measure 11 passed,” Mannix says.
The best criminal justice experts in the country can’t agree on exactly what causes the rise and fall of crime, although they all say that incarceration rates are but one piece of a puzzle that includes demographics, economics and carious other factors.
“It’s complicated,” says defense lawyer Levy, “and the desire of folks like Mannix and Doell is to make it seem simple.”
Even Mannix concedes that Measure 11 was drafted without the benefit of any real analysis of the correlation between sentences and crime rates. “It’s my own personal scale of justice,” he says. “Even if it didn’t make a dent in the crime rate, it was the right thing to do.”
While opinions differ on the effect of ballot measures on the crime rate, there is no debate about the extent to which Doell’s efforts have tied the hands of judges.
Judge Ellis tells a story of his first Measure 11 case, a shoplifter who struggled when she was caught. According to Ellis, she said, “Let me go. I’ve got a gun”—even though she did not have a weapon. Because she physically resisted and claimed she was armed, the charge was second-degree robbery, a Measure 11 crime that carries a mandatory 70 month sentence. Eventually, she accepted a plea bargain—pleading guilty to a lesser offense—and went to prison for 14 months.
“She was a single parent with two preschool children and no prior record,” Ellis said. “I suppose you could say it’s a good lesson to a shoplifter, but it’s so wildly disproportionate to the level of the crime. I’m not sure what social end was achieved by that.”
As justice in Oregon has been transformed by Doell, so has the amount we pay for it.
“Voters made a decision for us in ’94 that we would spend money on construction and operation of new prisons,” says Bob Applegate, Kitzhaber’s spokesman. “That vote was a budget decision.” As tax revenues grew to unprecedented levels from a booming economy, they were quickly eaten up because elected officials were forced to allocate more money for prisons.
The shift has been dramatic. While overall the state budget has risen 39percent since 199 3, the correction portion has increased by 90 percent, mainly to pay for the building of new prison cells. Since 1994 the Department of Corrections has added 2,3 50 beds. It has started construction on one new prison and sited five more. During that time same time, the higher-education budget has risen by 0.5 percent, and human resources has increased by 16 percent.
This biennium, Oregon will reach a dubious milestone. For the first time ever, the state will spend more on corrections (836 million) than it will on higher education (704 million).
Measure 61, the tough-on-crime- initiative on this November’s ballot, could cost an additional $850 million to $1.4 billion over the next 10 years and will require the construction of between 2,800 and 4,300 prison beds.
The problem, of course, is what isn’t getting funded. “Only about 50 percent of the people who seek drug and alcohol treatment and counseling can find it in this state,” Applegate says. “If you take the money we’ve put into expanding our prison system in the last four years and put a tenth of it in those kinds of services, might we be a safer place? That’s how we feel about it, but it’s too late. Measure 11 is law.”
If you believe, as Doell does, that protecting citizens is the most important mission of government, then this isn’t a problem. Clearly, Doell has no regrets.
“There’s certainly more noble things we could spend our money on,” he says, “but once we can get a real handle on the crime problem, which I think we’re starting to see. Then we can go more into the prevention mode. Hopefully, we can shift money the other way some day.”
Steve Doell and his ex-wife Colleen, divorced in the summer of 1989 because of “irreconcilable differences.” According to court documents, the split was difficult.
In November of 1989, Colleen Doell took out a retraining order against her ex-husband. In it, she claimed that Doell pulled their son, Scott, by his h air and hit him on the head and back: At about 3:30 a.m. [one day in October], Steve threatened Scott by telling him to keep the physical abuse a secret or he would have to walk home, as well as other unspecific retaliation.” Colleen Doell further claimed that her ex-husband “grabbed my neck, threw me against the wall of the house and choked me with sufficient force to cut off my ability to breathe or speak. Steve then struck my son several times in the head and grabbed my 9 year old daughter (Lisa) and trued to force her into his car as she screamed for help.”
Doell does not deny the incidents. “What I did was wrong,” he said. “There is no excuse for that type of behavior.”
Doell and his ex-wife also fought over child support. According to court filings, Doell suddenly stopped making child support and alimony payments about 12 months after the divorce. The lapse lasted 21 months, and the district attorney’s and the attorney general’s offices were called in to enforce the court ordered support payments. At one point Steve Doell was nearly $21,000. in arrears. He has since paid what he owes. Financial difficulties were part of it,” he says noting that he “did pay for other items that would never be listed there, like private school and that type of things.”
Measure 61 addresses a very real problem with state sentencing laws: Property criminals, even repeat offenders, escape any serious consequences for their crimes.
The measure calls for 12-month sentences for 35 different crimes, many of which are property offenses. It also tacks on an additional one-year sentence if the offender has one prior conviction, two years for two convictions and three years for three. The “kicker” sentences are mandatory, while the initial 12 month sentence is discretionary: in other words, the judge could give a first-time offender probation.
According to Multnomah County district Attorney Mike Schrunk, “There is a helluva problem with property crimes. We need to do something.”
But Schrunk is not supporting 61. One problem, he says, is the cost, estimated by state fiscal officers at $1.4 billion over 10 years for additional prison beds. Steve Doell, a co-sponsor of the measure, says that because many cases end in plea bargains, the price tag will be more like $850 million.
Schrunk also believes these offenders can be better served with programs like drug treatment. “If there’s one group we can manage in the community, it’s property offenders,” he says.
Critics of the measure also argue that the state Legislature has addressed some of the problems with property crimes in a 1997 law that increases sentences for some offenses.

PSJ Celebrates Victory on Re-entry Policy Goal June 1, 2007

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On Friday, May 25th, Governor Kulongoski signed an executive order creating a Re-entry Council. The Re-entry Council will serve as a taskforce to examine changes in government’s policies and practices in order to encourage the success of formerly incarcerated people returning to the community. The following is a link to a Statesman Journal article on the announcement: Article

The creation of this taskforce is one of our core policy goals for 2007 and we are incredibly happy this is happening. We see this as a major step forward in addressing the barriers people face during and after their transition from prison.

The Re-entry Council will consist of 19 people who will mostly represent state agencies. The Governor acknowledges that tackling re-entry barriers requires efforts and coordination from multiple state and local agencies and we agree.

Although this is a sign of progress, we are concerned that the Council does not have official representation of at least one formerly incarcerated person. PSJ believes that we need to involve impacted people in developing policy solutions in order to be successful. Nevertheless, we are not deterred. As the work of the Council gets serious, they will develop issue-area workgroups at which time additional people with critical expertise will join the work. We see this as an opportunity to bring much needed depth and diversity to the discussions. Rest assured we will be in dialogue with the Department of Corrections and the Governor’s office with helpful suggestions on how to make the Re-entry Council as productive as possible.

We would like to think that our years of hard work raising consciousness about re-entry barriers and the need to get smarter about our approach to public safety helped lay the groundwork for this.

We certainly spent a fair amount of time encouraging the Governor’s staff to make this happen. That said, we want to give credit where credit is due. We know that Max Williams worked hard on this and we were impressed by Governor Kulongoski’s speech.

The Governor is taking much needed leadership in reigning in skyrocketing prison growth and offering a new and valuable vision for creating public safety. Here is a brief excerpt from the Governor’s speech:

“…criminal justice has to be about more than punishment – it’s also about Hope. Hope for a better future – for our citizens who deserve safe communities – and for those at risk of sliding into a life of crime. People who have served their time need an opportunity to turn their life around – a job, a place to live, a chance for a new start.”

Governor Kulongoski

This is a very positive sign that Oregon is beginning to get smart about its approach to public safety.

If you have not already seen our report, Access Denied in Oregon: A Report on Barriers Faced by People with a Past Felony Conviction, you can find it on our website with the following link.