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Oregon Ballot Measures Receive Millions From Donors October 25, 2008

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A group that tracks state election contributions said Friday that groups and individual donors have allotted almost $14 million to support or oppose 11 ballot measures.

Nearly a third of that has come from members of the Oregon Education Association , a 47,000-member group that’s opposing seven measures and backing two, according to Democracy Reform Oregon.

Businessman Loren Parks is the single largest individual contributor, doling out $1.7 million to back two crime-related measures.

Donors giving $100,000 or more comprised 91 percent of the $13.7 million raised so far, said Janice Thompson, the group’s executive director.

“If ballot measure campaigns are evaluated by the numbers of Oregonians represented by major donors, those efforts funded primarily by Loren Parks fail the test,” said Thompson. “At the same time it is striking that almost one-third of the ballot measure money raised so far is from one group.”

Measure 63, which would waive permits for home repair projects under $35,000, attracted $412,625 from opponents looking to defeat the measure. Supporters raised $79,876 to back the proposal, written by initiative specialist Bill Sizemore.

Proponents of Measure 65, which would allow open primaries in Oregon, drew $390,329, compared to $265,750 in opposition.

Other large ballot measure donors included the National Education Association ($1 million), SIU Local 503 ($948,450), Oregon AFSCME Council 75 ($751,525) and a group called School Employees Exercising Democracy ($600,000). The groups primarily seek to defeat Sizemore’s five measures.


The Current Law for Repeat Property Offenders in Oregon October 23, 2008

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Here’s a link to the current law regarding repeat property offenders in Oregon


Oregon needs more classrooms, not more cells October 22, 2008

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Here’s another editorial from the Oregonian:

Both ballot measures on crime are deeply flawed, direly foolish and deserve to fail

Crime is a major problem in our state. And criminals — lots of them — must be punished. Government’s first responsibility remains to protect its citizens.

Government’s second responsibility is to be smart about that process.

More than 13,000 people are in prison in Oregon. Kevin Mannix put one in every three of them behind bars.

Many of these Measure 11 felons — like more than 60 percent of all those arrested in America — are abusers of drugs or alcohol. Because of the almost total lack of treatment they receive on the inside, after release they will commit more crimes. But Mannix, the father of that 1994 measure under which Oregon’s prison population has increased more than 80 percent, doesn’t seem to mind one bit. That’s because he’s not picking up the tab.

You are.

And now Mannix is back for more.

The lawyer and former state legislator is the author this year of Ballot Measure 61, a craven assault on your fears. It calls for mandatory minimum sentences for first-time burglars, identification thieves and drug dealers. Corrections officials say that, if passed, the measure might cost as much as $800 million to operate over the next five years, and more than $1.3 billion in prison construction.

Mannix insists there are less costly alternatives to new prisons, such as work camps. That indeed might reduce capital costs, but not nearly as much as Mannix expects. According to Max Williams, director of Oregon’s Corrections Department, inmates with mental health and behavioral problems can’t qualify for work crews. As for operating costs, Williams says work crews actually demand even higher ratios of staff to inmates.

Because many of the property crimes targeted by Measure 61 are committed by women — in identify theft cases they make up 44 percent of the convictions — Mannix would make Oregon the state with the nation’s highest percentage of female prisoners. That surely would mean far more children shoveled into Oregon’s woeful foster care system, which too often serves as a de facto holding tank for the next generation of criminals.

The impact all this would have on the state’s ability to provide basic services is so great that the Legislature felt compelled to craft an alternative.

Measure 57 is another awfully blunt instrument with which to try to craft a justice policy. But at least it targets repeat rather than first offenders and provides some drug treatment. It’s estimated to cost $411 million over five years, and to require the state to borrow $314 million for prison construction.

If both measures pass, the one with the most votes becomes law.

In Oregon, 80 percent of the crime is committed by 20 percent of the criminals. And here’s the funny part. Virtually none of them are college graduates. How we wish that someone with Mannix’s charm, passion and moxie might commit to selling Oregonians on the idea that what we need are more classrooms, not more cells.

Let us be clear. We think both these measures are dumb. They are ill-conceived, poorly crafted and offer wildly expensive answers to the wrong questions. Still, any voter feeling compelled to vote for one of them clearly must choose Measure 57. It’s half as dumb, and half as expensive. In the present political climate, that may be the best for which we can hope.


Church leaders say more prisons not the answer October 21, 2008

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After voters approved Measure 11 in 1994, many people felt the imposition of mandatory minimum prison sentences for violent criminals was discriminatory or ineffective. Now two more measures to increase prison terms for other crimes will appear on the November ballot.

Along with the enormous cost to build prisons, Measures 57 and 61 are bringing some of the same objections over fairness versus the need to bring justice to victims and enhance public safety.

Worried about citizen-proposed Measure 61’s affects on the community, the legislature came up with Measure 57, which supposedly only incarcerates repeat offenders, incarcerates fewer women and includes a fund for addiction treatment.

However, Rev. Leroy Haynes, vice president of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, says the group of black church leaders is against both measures.

“We are thankful for the Legislature’s attempt to offset [Measure 61] in terms of the rehab and everything, but we do not believe that the solution is more prisons, when we are already straddled with high taxes,” Haynes said.

“We must get to the root cause of crime, which is economic: illiteracy, the lack of education and job opportunities. Instead of putting the money into prisons, we should put it in education and creating job opportunities,” he said.

Haynes believes discretion on sentences should be in the hands of the judges, who must be allowed to determine the need for rehabilitation as well as the presence of any mitigating factors.

Since mandatory-sentencing laws such as Measure 11 became more common in the mid-1980s, prison populations have boomed, though crime levels have not declined with the same intensity.

In the U.S., more than 2.3 million, or one in 100 adults, are in jail, and since 91 percent of those are in local or state prisons, it costs state governments more than $50 billion annually.

Oregon’s prison population increased by 80 percent after the passage of Measure 11, and now Oregon is one of five states that spend as much or more on prisons than it does on higher education.

It is also well-known that our corrections system is racially biased.

Families against Mandatory Minimums reports that African Americans account for 13 percent of the general population, yet in 2003 they comprised 27 percent of those receiving federal mandatory drug sentences. Hispanics constituted 12.5 percent of the general population but received 43 percent of the drug mandatory sentences.

In a city such as Portland, with documented racial-profiling problems, it is likely that the additional mandatory-sentencing laws would only further the imbalance.

Measures 57 and 61 add length to existing sentences and add new (nonviolent) crimes to the list, so will tax the system further.

As females are more likely to commit the nonviolent crimes to be added to the mandatory-sentencing list, these measures will also impact the state’s foster care system-and the prison system again down the road, as research shows that children of incarcerated women are five times as likely to be incarcerated as their peers.

The children of drug offenders would benefit much more from their mothers’ receiving drug counseling than they would having their mothers imprisoned, argue opponents of the measures.

Karen Nibler of the League of Women Voters of Oregon says they favor Measure 57 because of its drug treatment program and lower cost.

Nibler says Measure 61 “would add 4,000 to 6,000 non-violent inmates to the prison system by 2012.

“It would require millions of dollars in added prison operation costs and take funds from other state programs,” she said. “It would not require substance abuse treatment and does not estimate the costs of additional prison construction.”

Studies show that lowering unemployment rates and increasing wages and numbers of law-enforcement officers affect crime rates much more than incarceration does. When it comes to non-violent criminals, systems such as electronic monitoring, community supervision and mandatory drug counseling have also been proven cheaper and more effective.

Alternative punishments also enable inmates to return to their communities sooner and make contributions such as taxes and child-support payments.

Measures 57 and 61 both eliminate the possibility of using cheaper, better systems to rehabilitate criminals, and do not provide a way to pay for the imprisonment of more people.

The measures are estimated to cost between $411 million to $797 million in prison operations over the next four years, plus another $314 million to $1.3 billion dollars in prison construction debt.

Opponents say the money would do nothing to correct racial bias in the justice system, fix broken families or lower long-term crime rates, but instead add to pre-existing problems.


Forced To Choose Between Two Mandatory Minimum Ballot Measures October 18, 2008

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Below are the thoughts of a great contributor of this website. I’m sure they represent what many Oregonians are feeling.

I am being forced, by Mannix and Parks and the legislature to choose between two measures that we shouldn’t need. In this economy I don’t think we can afford either. Maybe we need to do more research when voting for Judges and ask them if they will actually use the laws we pass or if they will continue to put us in this position. In my last post, I gave the link to a law we already have. Why do we need more laws. Judges don’t seem to be using the tools we the taxpayers/voters have given them. Because of that, Oregonians get stuck with laws like Measure 11 and either 57 or 61. When they pass the Judges whine that their power is taken away. We really are not being given a choice if we want more crime measures or not. One or the other is being shoved down our throats.

What are your thoughts?


Competing crime measures force Oregon voters to think tactically October 17, 2008

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Here’s an article from the Oregonian.

Joe Smith plans to hold his nose and vote for Measure 57, which increases prison sentences for career burglars, identity thieves and drug dealers and offers probation and drug treatment to first-time offenders.

Smith, a member of the civics-minded City Club of Portland, doesn’t buy the argument that Oregon needs to build more prisons for drug dealers and property criminals when reported property crime is at a 40-year low in Oregon.

But he says voting for 57 is the best way to defeat the far harsher Measure 61, which would impose mandatory minimum prison sentences for first time non-violent offenders and cost the state twice as much money.

So why not vote “no” on both?

Because 57 and 61 are uniquely intertwined: if both pass, the one with more votes wins.

And Smith says both will pass.

“If a poll came out in the next five days showing both going down, this (voter) would vote against both of them,” Smith said. “But everybody’s telling me it’s inevitable.”

Measure 57 is attracting support from a lot of groups that usually don’t endorse prison-building but oppose the more costly Measure 61, from the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley to Stand for Children to the Oregon Consumer League. But 57 also has plenty of enthusiastic supporters, including police associations and most of the state’s elected district attorneys.

They argue that Measure 57 strikes a balance between punishment and prevention at a reasonable cost.

“It has the opportunity to get treatment,” said Klamath County District Attorney Ed Caleb. “But it hopefully acts as some sort of deterrent.”

Measure 61 supporters also face the dilemma of trying to get voters to split their vote.

Duane Fletchall, a retired Marion County Sheriff’s sergeant, said voters who want to crack down on property crime could end up enacting the weaker alternative if they pick both.

“61 — they’re going to serve some time,” Fletchall said. “57 — they’re looking at probation and treatment.”

Dueling measures are unusual. Other issues on the November ballot — from teacher pay to bilingual education — offer a simple yes-or-no choice.

The calculation with 57 and 61 is more complicated, thanks to the Oregon Legislature.

Last year, it became clear that Measure 61, sponsored by former Republican lawmaker Kevin Mannix, had enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

An analysis by state officials determined that Measure 61 would likely increase the state’s nearly 13,700 prison population by at least 30 percent and cost $522 million to $797 million in the first five years. That’s money that would otherwise go to education, health care and other programs.

Polling also suggested it would take a $5 million to $10 million campaign to defeat Measure 61.

Democrats, a handful of Republicans, prosecutors and other interest groups negotiated an alternative that would toughen sentences for burglary, theft and drug dealing, but cost less.

Measure 57, which would cost an estimated $411 million in the first five years, also has money for drug treatment.

The Legislature in February approved 57, including the provision that the measure with the most votes wins.

That forced the campaigns to urge Oregonians to vote “yes” and “no.”

The Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance, led by Mannix and funded by businessman Loren Parks, has raised $677,300 in opposition to 57 and in support of 61 and 62, which would divert 15 percent of lottery proceeds from schools and services to law enforcement.

Defend Oregon — a coalition led by public employee unions — has raised $6.57 million in support of 57 and in opposition to 61, 62 and five other measures.

Not everyone plans to split their votes.

Linn County District Attorney Jason Carlile said he will be happy if either measure wins.

“The only bad choice here is neither one passes,” Carlile said.

Charles Mitchell, a Portland City Club member, said he will vote against both measures because the United States locks up a higher percentage of its citizens than any country. Oregon’s incarceration rate is close to the national average, but the state spends a larger percentage of its budget on prisons than most others.

“My feeling is both of these measures are bad,” Mitchell said. “The money that would be spent, which is significant, is better used supporting social services and education.”



Know who you are voting for and who is supporting them October 16, 2008

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One of our best contributors sent an e-mail with very helpful information.

Just got a flyer from Scott Bruun’s campaign. When I went online to see what the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance Foundation is all about, the return address for the flyer, Loren Parks who also supports Kevin Mannix and Bill Sizemore names come up very prominently . We all need to know who we are voting for and who/what they support and who is supporting them.

there is more to it than just reading the Voters Pamphlet…..


Editorial: Property crime measures criminally bad October 14, 2008

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Here’s an editorial from the Corvallis Gazette Times about the two mandatory minimum sentences ballot measures. It sums up what many people think, and is encouraging a no vote on both. This brings up the agonizing dilemma…those who want fair and appropriate justice and oppose measure 11 also oppose both current ballot measures. So, the obvious response is to vote no on both. But, as they are worded, the measure that receives the most votes will pass. Since measure 57 is the lesser of the two evils, the Partnership for Safety and Justice (and others) urge us to vote yes on measure 57. This yes vote on measure 57 will increase the chances of Measure 61 failing. It all seems so convoluted; however, welcome to reality.

We certainly do not need another set of laws that further handcuff our judges. Measure 61 is cost-prohibitive and just adds to the horror of mandatory minimums.

It’s amazing how many people in Oregon are so naive to think that everyone convicted of crimes involving mandatory minimum sentences are actually guilty. Common sense tells us that is true; however, the facts are far different. Imagine waking up one day from a knock on your door. A police officer is there to take you down to headquarters for questioning. You learn that a minor has made up a story and accused you of inappropriate behavior. Your life as you knew it is now over. You will face a DA that threatens jail time for 75 months and having to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. Your choice–take a plea bargain of lesser time in prison (and the requirement of sex offender registration), or gambling and go to trial and attempt to bring forth the truth of your innocence. Either way, the overwhelming odds are that you lose. Being gutsy, believing in the justice system, and knowing you did nothing wrong, you press for a trial. Slowly, you come to understand that the prosecution does NOT require any evidence at all to obtain a conviction. No evidence, either physical or eye-witness, is needed to determine guilt? You wonder if all of a sudden the United States has just become a third-world country with utter lawlessness and rampant judicial corruption. As the judge sentences you to 75 months in prison, the requirement to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life, and then 10 years probation after that, the ugly truth that all it takes is an accusation to convict someone starts the soul-eating process to begin, draining your humanity as well as your sanity for the rest of your days.

Unfortunately, this is not an Alfred Hitchcock film. This is the current reality facing thousands of Oregonians. I know you think this just can’t happen. Many just like you have thought the same thing. BUT IT HAS HAPPENED COUNTLESS TIMES AND WILL CONTINUE INDEFINITELY UNTIL ENOUGH PEOPLE SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING, BAND TOGETHER, AND MAKE VITAL CHANGES. Don’t wait until you are the next casualty.

First, let us offer a general word of advice on ballot measures: When in doubt, “no” almost always is an honorable vote.

Oregon history is filled with well-meaning ballot measures that ended up being textbook examples of the law of unintended consequences. And many of the measures that have been put in front of voters truthfully belong in front of the Legislature, where these items at least get a shot at being debated and decided on their merits and supporters and opponents can try to build coherent cases.

We still are pondering some of the 12 state measures facing us this election, but it’s a safe bet that we’ll be leaning heavily on the “no” side of the ballot. We recommend you do the same.

Today, let us turn our attention to the two competing property-crime measures on the ballot, Measure 57 and Measure 61. We recommend “no” votes on both measures.

Both measures aim to increase sentences for property crimes. Measure 57 is the one that was crafted by legislators after it became clear that Measure 61 was going to make the ballot. (If both pass, the measure with the most votes becomes law.)

Measure 57 is somewhat easier on the taxpayer than Measure 61, which is estimated to add 4,100 to 6,300 inmates to Oregon’s prison population of about 13,600. Measure 61 is estimated to cost $8 million to $10 million next year; the price tag could increase to as much as $274 million per year after its fourth year. We’ll be building plenty of new prison cells.

By contrast, Measure 61 is estimated to cost $9 million or so its first year, and then increase to about $143 million per year after its fourth year.

Measure 61 doesn’t include a penny for treatment of the drug addictions that fuel so much property crime; that’s another advantage of Measure 57.

Regardless, this is all money that comes out of the general fund. Every cent that goes to pay for one of these measures is a cent that doesn’t go to education or health care or economic development — unless you’re in the business of building prisons.

We cannot afford either of these measures. And, considering recent FBI reports that said property crime in Oregon has declined 20 percent over the last two years, the need for either is questionable.

We have another, more philosophical, argument against both of these measures: We’ve already handcuffed our judges with previous sentencing measures, most notably Measure 11, which mandated minimum sentences for certain violent crimes. We pay judges to decide sentences on the merits of each case, to protect society, to rehabilitate when possible, to punish when appropriate — and to show mercy when appropriate. If a judge consistently imposes sentences that are out of line with community expectations, the proper response is to toss the rascal out during the next election. We fail to see what is to be gained by denying judges the latitude they sometimes need to make sure justice is served in each specific case.

If you must vote for one of the property-crime measures, Measure 57 is the one to back.

But during our conversations with legislators about both measures, the most enthusiastic case we got for Measure 57 essentially boiled down to this: It isn’t as bad as Measure 61.

We agree with that assessment. But that’s not a good enough case for Measure 57. Vote “no” on both measures.

To read the article and the subsequent comments, please CLICK HERE


Help Stop Kevin Mannix! October 4, 2008

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You can still help stop Mandatory Minimum Madness!

As you know, we are working hard to defeat Measure 61 and Election Day is fast approaching. Kevin Mannix has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from his out-of-state sugar daddy, Loren Parks. Partnership for Safety and Justice and its sister organization, Safety and Justice Action Fund, need to raise money and awareness if we are going to defeat this measure.

We have been having house parties, but not everyone can host a party in their own home. So for everyone who couldn’t host or attend a party, we are having two BIG house parties and everyone is invited!


Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 6:00 pm
St. Thomas Episcopal Church
1465 Coburg Road, Eugene, Oregon
Presentation by Aba Gayle


Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 6:00 pm
Multnomah Friends Meeting House
4312 SE Stark Street, Portland, Oregon
Presentation by Gretchen Vala

Your support could mean the difference between winning and losing this critical battle, so please bring your checkbook and let’s make this happen!

Come enjoy good food and great company while supporting the leadership role Partnership for Safety and Justice is taking to defeat Mandatory Minimum Madness.

Please RSVP to Karen by email or call her at (503) 335-8449.

Unable to attend but still want to help? Click here to make an online donation or mail your check to us at 825 NE 20th Ave, Suite 250, Portland, Oregon 97240.

Thank you!


Measure 62 may take a bite out of crime as well as school budgets October 3, 2008

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Oregon voters will have to choose between public safety and public schools on the November ballot.

Under Measure 62, a yes vote would set aside 15 percent of state lottery profits for district attorneys, sheriffs and state police investigations that measure co-sponsor Kevin Mannix says get short shrift by Oregon lawmakers. The 15 percent amount would be carved into the state constitution.

A no vote would allow lawmakers to continue to spend that money on schools. At stake is about $200 million every two years. Because roughly half of Oregon’s lottery money is tied up by state law or the constitution, most of the $200 million would come from schools.

For Doug Harcleroad, retiring district attorney for Lane County, the question is easy in a county that’s been hammered by low property taxes and the loss of federal timber money. The county operates only 93 of 500 jail beds, he says, and releases about a dozen people a day because of overcrowding.

“We let out sex offenders and gun violators and domestic violence offenders. We let out terrible people who shouldn’t be let out, and some of them re-offend,” Harcleroad says.

But opponents say the measure would hurt classrooms and give an unexpected windfall to counties and to specific Oregon State Police units.

The Defend Oregon Coalition, which includes unions, teachers, seniors citizens and human services groups, figures schools would lose about $185 million and economic development about $20 million.

“I’m afraid in the absence of a campaign, people’s attitude might be: 15 percent for crime? Sounds good to me. And the question is whether they know it’s at the expense of education,” says Steve Novick with Defend Oregon.