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A prudent Oregon treasury cannot afford another prison expansion August 22, 2008

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HERE’S A GOOD EDITORIAL FROM THE DAILY ASTORIAN.

You can’t miss with crime. Politicians know it. That’s why Congress over decades has enlarged the list of capital crimes. It’s also why Oregon voters will be asked to add a new chapter to the massive prison expansion of Measure 11.

Kevin Mannix and the Oregon Legislature have submitted competing property crimes ballot measures. The legislature’s measure costs less than Mannix’, but it’s also over $1 billion.

Crime is an easy sell. But debt isn’t. And neither of these measures carries a funding mechanism to pay for the major increase in the state Corrections budget they will incur.

These measures come along at a time when the American economy is tenuous at best. The New York Times Magazine last Sunday carried a profile of Nouriel Roubini, who’s known in economic circles as Dr. Doom. Roubini says America’s banking and credit problems have only begun.

Voters might be skeptical if they realized that either of the two property crimes measures on the November ballot will cost more than $1 billion. But then again, they might not. Crime prompts a visceral response.

These measures carry price tags that a prudent Oregon treasury really can’t afford. But the larger truth is that prison – not education – has become Oregonians’ only entitlement.

THE ASTORIAN LINK IS HERE

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Portland Reports Low Crime Rate August 9, 2008

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Crimes in Portland are at the lowest rate since the city started keeping records in the 1970’s, police said Wednesday.

KGW report on crime rate “There’s a significant drop,” said Sgt. Brian Schmautz with the Portland Police Bureau.

Shoplifting was the only crime to increase, according to the recently released report, growing by 3%. All other crimes are down 14%, the numbers showed.

The murder rate was down 13% compared to this time last year. There have been 13 murders this year in Portland.

Rape and robbery were also down 17%, the report said. Auto theft had the largest drop, at 36%.

“The last thing we want to say is that it’s solely because of cops because there are a number of factors always involved in criminal activity,” said Sgt. Schmautz.

“For the city of Portland, we would just like to assure people there is positive news in crime. It doesn’t always have to be the crime of the day or the fifteen crimes of the day and in fact Portland is enjoying a relative quiet period,” he added.

The police department also breaks down the statistics according to the different sections of town. Police were being cautiously optimistic, they said.

“We haven’t had a murder in thirty days,” said Sgt. Brian Schmautz. He added, “But the reality is, living in an urban area, with hundreds of thousands of people someone will unfortunately end up being a victim.”

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Either anti-crime measure will cost over $1 billion, state says August 8, 2008

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The Oregonian newspaper wrote the following story today, giving more insight about how both measures for first time convicted drug and property offenders will force cuts in state services or large tax increases.

Cost of ballot initiatives

An initiative on the November ballot to lock up first-time drug and property crime offenders would cost taxpayers $1.3 billion to $2.2 billion over the next decade, according to projections released by state officials.

A competing anti-crime measure sponsored by legislators would cost about $1.1 billion over the same period.

Neither crime measure includes a tax increase to pay for housing additional inmates, and it would be up to the Legislature to raise taxes or cut other programs to foot the bill.

Kevin Mannix, a Republican who waged two unsuccessful campaigns for governor, is pushing Measure 61, the harsher of the two ballot measures. He called the state’s numbers “a fantasy” that overestimates how many people will end up behind bars.

Still, he predicted that Oregon voters would not be put off by the steep price tag.

“The ordinary voter is going to say, ‘OK, do I want someone breaking into my car or stealing my car or stealing my identity? No, I don’t, and I want government to put these predators behind bars and pull them off the streets,’ ” he said.

Mannix’s proposal would set three-year mandatory minimum prison sentences for first-time drug dealers, burglars and identity thieves, increasing Oregon’s prison population by an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 inmates.

The state analysis shows Oregon would need to spend $8 million to $10 million on it in the first year, ramping up to as much as $274 million a year by the fifth year. The measure also would require the state to borrow $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion to build new prisons.

Measure 57, which legislators put on the ballot as an alternative to Mannix’s proposal, is cheaper at $1.1 billion but still requires the state to spend more than $143 million a year when fully operational.

Under the lawmakers’ proposal, repeat offenders would bear the sentencing brunt and more money would go toward drug treatment. But the measure would require $314 million for new prison space for an estimated 1,600 offenders.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE STORY

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The Official Mandatory Minimums Ballot Measure Numbers Have Been Assigned August 5, 2008

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HERE’S A VERY IMPORTANT POST FROM THE PARTNERSHIP FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE.  THE POLITICAL REALITIES WILL PUT OREGONIANS IN A DIFFICULT POSITION THIS ELECTION.  IT’S VITAL TO GET INFORMED, THEN SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS, CO-WORKERS, NEIGHBORS, ETC.  LET’S MAKE OUR VOTES COUNT AND OUR VOICES HEARD.

Official Ballot Measure Numbers Assigned

The election is only three months away!

Measure Numbers Have Been Assigned

The Secretary of State assigned numbers to the initiatives we will be voting on this November. Here are the two measures most crucial to PSJ members, along a few critical points, followed by our voting recommendations:

Measure 61
Measure 57
Mannix’s Mandatory Minimum Madness Measure
A More Balanced Alternative
Crime Measure
· Creates new mandatory minimum sentences for drug and property crimes
· Creates longer sentences for some drug and property crimes
· Forces judges into one-size-fits-all sentencing, including first-time offenders
· Judges can still take into account individual  circumstances of each case during sentencing
· Oregon will need to spend an additional $400 million every two years for incarceration, not including cost for new prison construction
· Will cost less than half of Measure 61
· Provides no resources for drug treatment
· Provides significant investment in drug treatment and drug courts
· Will put up to 6,000 people in prison in the first three years
· Will grow prison population by substantially less than Measure 61
· Measure funded primarily by out-of-state interests
· Measure supported by broad coalition of Oregonians, including education advocates, health and human service providers and key labor unions

PSJ Position on the Two Measures

There is no way to sugarcoat Measure 57. It is not the approach we would have taken. Yet, its potential human and fiscal impact is not nearly as bad as Measure 61. This is an election where we have to make a difficult choice. The polling indicates that the best chance of defeating Measure 61 (the Mannix measure) is to support Measure 57. If Measure 57 gets more votes, it will become law and Measure 61 will fail. Although our hearts and politics make us want to vote no on both, we are encouraging people to vote YES on Measure 57 and NO on Measure 61 . Sadly, elections too often provide us with unsatisfying choices, and these measures continue that trend this November. We will be voting based on realism and not idealism. The devastation that Measure 61 will reap on Oregon must be avoided.

Please share this message with your friends and family. Make sure everyone you know is registered to vote and votes NO on 61 and YES on 57. The health of our state depends on it!

For a more detailed discussion of the differences between the two measures, see Comparing Legislative Property Crime Ballot Measure to Mannix’s Mandatory Minimum Measure on our website or “New Mandatory Sentences on Oregon Ballot” in the Summer 2008 issue of Justice Matters.

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