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Engaging Family Members in Reentry Efforts Webinar September 30, 2010

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The National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) and The Center for the Advancement of Mentoring will host a two-part webinar on engaging family members in reentry efforts and identifying pro-social support for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

Topics: Speakers for the first webinar will provide a framework for a family-focused approach and a glimpse at its application in two settings: 1) the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (addressing family engagement in its juvenile justice facilities and within parole) and 2) a New York-based program (working with families in the community and offering home-based services for court-involved youth).

Title: Family Engagement in Reentry for Justice-Involved Youth

When: October 4, 2010, 3:30 pm ET

Speakers include

Click here to register for the October 4th webinar.

The second webinar will be held on November 1, 2010. It will focus on incorporating juvenile justice-involved youth’s family and social network into reentry mentoring programs. Speakers will discuss identifying, recruiting, and training “natural mentors,” such as extended family members, teachers, or neighbors, to work alongside other reentry program-assigned mentors to help youth better transition back into the community and, in many instances, into adulthood. The National Reentry Resource Center will send out an announcement next month about registering for this webinar.


Loren Parks puts $375,000 into Senate Republican races

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The rumors are true.  Loren Parks, the Nevada businessman who owns a medical device company in Oregon, has put a big chunk of money – $375,000 to be exact – into the Oregon Senate Republican caucus political fund.

The Senate Republicans waited until the last moment to report the contribution, which turned up on the secretary of state’s financial database Thursday morning.

Parks is Oregon’s most prolific individual political contributor, having given about $13 million since he first appeared on the political scene in 1994.  For many years, he was a big contributor to Kevin Mannix, the former legislator and gubernatorial candidate.  Parks helped bankroll Mannix’s 1994 initiative, Measure 11, which boosted violent crime sentences.

However, Parks reportedly had a falling out with Mannix and has yanked funding from him, according to a story by The Oregonian’s Les Zaitz last month.

It’s been rumored for months that Parks would jump into the Senate Republican races in a big way.  Before the primary, he gave $31,000 to the Leadership Fund, the Senate Republican political action committee.  In turn, it appeared the Leadership Fund used that money to help Mary Kremer defeat Steve Griffith in the primary for the seat held by Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin.

What’s not clear is how the Senate Republican leadership intends to spend the money.  Since Parks made the donation on Sept. 1, there haven’t been any unusually large expenditures mde by the Leadership Fund, which reports having a cash balance of a little over $320,000.


Hard choices: Something must give in Oregon’s budget September 25, 2010

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Budget decisions facing Oregon government read like a menu at a nightmare restaurant, with choices ranging from the barely palatable to the really expensive.

Close a prison or two? Knock poor families off welfare? Jettison tax breaks for green industry and retirees? Slap a tax on soda pop?

Pick your poison. The list grows longer by the week.

The short-term problem confronting Oregon is a $3.2 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget. Without a fundamental change in state spending habits, however, Oregonians can expect a decade of big, paralyzing gaps between the demand for services and the money to pay for them.

Here’s just one example of the state’s fiscal dilemma: Even as agency heads are looking for ways to cut spending, the Oregon Department of Human Services calculates it will need an additional $1.8 billion in 2011-2013 because of the rising tide of hard-hit families seeking state aid, an end to the flow of federal stimulus dollars and scheduled raises in staff pay and benefits.

To put that number in perspective, the total new money the state expects to receive over the next two years — to invest in schools, police and all other programs — is only $1.6 billion. And that assumes a robust economic recovery.

Budget scenarios like that have recast the debate in Salem. Options rejected by leaders in the past because they were politically perilous — hiking the beer tax, for example — or choices that once seemed unimaginable — cutting off state help to families in need — are now part of what has become an intense, statewide discussion.

Political candidates, business and union leaders, and ordinary citizens have begun to weigh in on the changes that need to happen as Oregon adjusts to a new era of austerity. Pressure is mounting on lawmakers to go beyond the traditional tweaks and do something big.

“This is the moment,” says Duncan Wyse, president of the Oregon Business Council, which has put revamping the state budget at the top of its priority list. “If we can’t do it now, I don’t know when we will.”

What follows are some of the dozens of proposals flying around for reconstructing Oregon’s budget to fit a tighter future. Some would require supermajority votes by the Legislature, some would have to be negotiated with unions, some would need to be approved by federal officials and some would require a statewide vote to amend the Oregon Constitution.

As Julia Child used to say, “Bon appetit.”


PERS: Few dispute the skyrocketing cost of retirement benefits for state workers. Both major candidates for governor, Republican Chris Dudley and Democrat John Kitzhaber, have called for cutbacks, as has Gov. Ted Kulongoski. Expect a debate over the 6 percent of salary employees are required to contribute to pension plans, but which the state pays under negotiated labor contracts.

Ending the 6-percent pickup doesn’t guarantee savings — estimated at $750 million over two years — because current labor contracts call for the money to revert to salary if it doesn’t go to retirement plans.

Future changes would also be subject to negotiation and could prompt talk of a state worker strike.

State worker health insurance: The state pays the entire cost of employee health insurance premiums, currently valued at $1,070 a month per worker. Few private companies offer such generous health benefits.

Lawmakers and the next governor will be under substantial pressure to match state worker compensation to the private sector, which could mean requiring them to pay a share of their premiums. These changes also would require contract negotiations.


Reinventing the budget: The Oregon Business Council and ECONorthwest have crunched numbers showing that at current growth rates, spending on health care, human services and prisons will continue to rise at rates well above inflation, causing the state’s investment in education to remain static or shrink.

One way to change that, the council says, is to set explicit targets for state agencies, not just give them what they had in the previous budget and adjust for inflation. The council recommends aiming dollars where they can spur the economy, such as education and job training.

“Kicker” reform: Democrats, including Kitzhaber, want voters to change the state kicker law to divert any surplus income into a reserve account instead of returning it to taxpayers. When the account reaches a specified level, 10 to 15 percent of the general fund, say, the kicker would function as it does now, with taxpayers getting refunds if state revenues exceed projections by more than 2 percent.

Republicans, including Dudley, want the kicker left as is. To build up reserve accounts, they propose requiring a small percent of general fund revenue be squirreled away before it can be used for schools, health care or other services.

Either plan requires a statewide vote to amend the state Constitution.

Prison downsizing: Oregon’s crime rate has fallen to its lowest level in four decades, yet the incarceration rate remains high. With corrections consuming an increasing share of the state revenue pie, expect a flurry of bills aimed at paring the prison population.

Among the options for reducing the number of state inmates include changing Measure 11’s mandatory sentences, giving more earned time off for good behavior and allowing some inmates to spend the final year of their sentences under a home detention program. Changing Measure 11 sentences requires a two-thirds vote by the Legislature.

Also looming is Measure 73, on the November ballot, which would require more prison beds by lengthening sentences for repeat drunken drivers and sex offenders.


Local options: Only 25 Oregon school districts have successfully passed local option levies, which allow them to collect more property taxes to run their classrooms. What about the other 167?

Some have tried and failed. Most haven’t even tried. That, by some reckoning, leaves money on the table.

Portland, for example, supplements its school budget to the tune of $38 million a year by tacking on a local option, which expires next year. “It’s hard for me to imagine a set of circumstances in which we wouldn’t renew it,” says school board member David Wynde.

Cut welfare programs: Oregon is supposed to spend about $471.6 million in the next two-year budget for its share of the state-federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program.

Demand for welfare help remains high, with 27,757 families, including 50,900 children, receiving benefits in August. Oregon could save money by following other states in reducing cash payments to families or giving a flat amount, regardless of how many children are in the home.

For example, Oregon allows a family of three as much as $528 a month. In contrast, Idaho adults are cut off from cash payments after two years and families receive a maximum $309 grant, regardless of the number of children.

What if Oregon follows Idaho’s model? The result would be fewer families getting cash assistance, with children becoming the majority of the recipients.

Food stamps aren’t touchable. Federal rules dictate the amount that families receive and what they can buy at the store.

Health care cuts: National health care reform took away a lot of choices Oregon once had. Even bad ones.

In 2003, relatives rushed to take elders out of Oregon after the state shaved nearly 6,000 people from long-term care programs by further restricting who was eligible for government-paid health care.

Recent federal decisions prevent states from shedding people from their Medicaid-supported programs by rewriting eligibility rules. In certain circumstances, the rules will allow Oregon to cut payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers; eliminate coverage of some services, such as dental care for adults, and require patients to help shoulder the cost of their care through copayments. All of those options have appeared on recent state cut lists.

Some lawmakers are questioning the need to build a new state mental hospital in Junction City. The state has spent $3.2 million on site preparation, with the deadline to pull the plug on the project rapidly approaching.

Pink slips: “There will be layoffs,” a grim Kulongoski promised six months ago after announcing another big budget shortfall. He just didn’t say how many.

So far this year, 57 state workers have lost their jobs out of a workforce of more than 35,000. A grand total of 241 — less than 1 percent — have been laid off since July 1, 2009, when the recession began sapping Oregon of more than $1 billion in expected revenue.

Oregon, like many other states, relied on federal stimulus aid to forestall layoffs and used furlough days to cut payroll costs. A new report by the National Governors Association suggests layoffs may replace furloughs as the budget-balancer of choice in the coming year.


Beer and wine taxes: Hundreds of Oregon wineries are getting away with paying minuscule or no taxes on their products, says Robert Kerivan, owner of Bridgeview Vineyards & Winery in Cave Junction. They’re considered small vintners for tax purposes and are exempt from the $1.60 per case tax that bigger wineries pay — even though their wines may sell for $40 a bottle and up.

“What’s going on is morally wrong,” Kerivan says.

But tax increases require a three-fifths vote of approval in the Legislature. Every attempt to raise taxes on wine or beer has been stamped out by an effective lobby.

How effective? Oregon hasn’t raised its beer tax in 33 years. And it’s the lowest in the nation.

Last year, the Legislative Revenue Office estimated the state could bring in an additional $2.8 million a year if it increased the beer tax by $1 per barrel and another $2.9 million by hiking the wine tax by a quarter a gallon.

Sodas and cigarettes: Borrowing an idea from Washington and other states, the Oregon Health Improvement Plan Committee has talked of proposing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and further increases on tobacco taxes.

The committee, which advises the state’s Health Policy Board and public health officials, says the proceeds could be spent to fight obesity and on anti-smoking programs, which would reduce future health care costs.

According to the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, a 6-cent tax on a 12-ounce can of soda and other sugary drinks would raise $104 million a year for Oregon’s state government.

The Legislature’s revenue office estimates that increasing the tax on a pack of cigarettes by a dime would raise $10.6 million a year.

Senior medical tax deduction: Oregon is the only state to allow residents 62 and older to deduct all their medical expenses from their state income tax. It’s a break that not only applies to the older Oregonian, but to that person’s entire household.

For the current budget, the deduction means Oregon will forgo about $120 million in revenue. In 2011-13, the estimated cost rises to $162 million.

Sen. Ginny Burdick, chair of the Senate’s Finance and Revenue Committee, said she’ll try — again — to end the deduction but it won’t be easy, even with a $3 billion budget gap.

“People are afraid of offending seniors,” Burdick says. “That’s the political reality.”

In addition, radically changing or eliminating the deduction would require a three-fifths vote.


Sales tax: It gets mentioned every year, and it could raise a boatload of money for public schools and state programs. But few give it any reasonable chance because Oregon voters seem to have it in their DNA that when something says it costs $10.95, by gum it should cost $10.95.

Marijuana tax: Cash-strapped California may beat us to it: On Nov. 2, voters there will decide whether to legalize and tax marijuana.

California’s Board of Equalization estimates that the pot tax could raise $1.4 billion for the state. But researchers at Rand Corp. looked at the assumptions — price, demand, reduced cost of law enforcement — and declared it all but impossible to estimate how much a state could truly net off marijuana.

So it’s understandable that Paul Warner, head of the Legislature’s revenue office, can’t come up with a number either. Depending on what happens south of Oregon’s border, Warner says: “In the not-to-distant future, we may have to come up with a credible estimate.”

Soak the tourists: Sticking with the California theme, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has suggested selling off public lands or closing state parks to raise money.

No one in Oregon is talking about hanging a “for sale” sign at Tolovana or any of the state’s other state parks. And the last time we tried gouging out-of-staters — levying a $2-per-night surcharge — it didn’t go so well.

Oregon didn’t make much money, but it did get a lot of bad PR, says state parks spokesman Chris Havel. People stopped coming and other states retaliated, charging Oregonians more.

Bonding: States can come up with extra money in emergencies the same way ordinary families do, by borrowing it. Kulongoski says that might be the only way to keep the state solvent until the economy gets going again.

A number of legislators are floating bonding proposals for construction projects and balancing the budget. But the state treasurer says Oregon has maxed out its debt capacity.

The Legislature borrowed to get out of the last bad recession in 2003, selling $400 million in bonds backed by income from a big tobacco lawsuit settlement. Those bonds are still being paid off, costing taxpayers $70 million a year.


County Faces Expansion Of Mental Health Court Needs September 23, 2010

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Recognizing that the corrections system is not usually the best way to get needed treatment for people with mental health issues, Washington County continues to build partnerships between the criminal justice system and other community agencies to help those with mental illnesses avoid hospitalization or jail for crimes committed as a result of their conditions.

Chief among these efforts is the county Mental Health Court, a partnership between Washington County Circuit Court, law enforcement, parole and probation and the department of health and human services.

The Mental Health Court team consists of Judge Marco Hernandez, Kristin Burke, the county health department’s adult mental health senior program coordinator, two staff from county, an assistant district attorney, a public defender, a Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy and a program manager from a contracted nonprofit mental health services agency.

Potential clients meet with the defense attorney, who discusses the details of the program — including living in approved housing, taking medications as prescribed, agreeing not to use drugs or alcohol and obeying the law.

Attending counseling or therapy, including sobriety groups, is required, and participants are expected to look for work.

Meeting others with a wide range of mental illnesses forges connections that help clients remain successful in the community long after they graduate, says program coordinator Joe Simich, a county Probation and Parole Services supervisor.

“We have people who suffer from disorders like bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia,” Simich said. “But once people have committed to take their medications and stay away from drugs or alcohol, they are on a road to living safely in the community.”

In the early stages of the program, the aim is attaining stability. Clients may be subject to random drug and alcohol tests during twice-monthly meetings, both with Hernandez and a probation officer.

In Phase 2, clients who are able to work pay part of their court expenses and may have to pay restitution to people they have harmed. People on Social Security might donate part of their benefits toward restitution.

But the greatest focus of Phase 2 is supervised community service, to benefit both the nonprofit agencies that work with mental health consumers, Simich said. Court visits are reduced to only once each month.

Once reaching Phase 3, their goal is to maintain their stability for at least another four months to successfully complete the program. In Phase 3, only one visit to the probation officer is expected each month.

The clients benefit by dealing with the same judge on each visit, Simich said.

Briefed before each Mental Health Court session, Hernandez is familiar with the conditions and prognosis for each client.

While justice is swift, Hernandez enthusiastically supports the progress that the clients make toward managing their mental health and gaining long term sobriety.

The Mental Health Court team is working for opportunities to increase funding to expand the 33-client mental health program.

Another mental health justice program looking to expand is the Forensic Assertive Community Treatment team.

Wanting to reach people who have been in and out of jail multiple times, the FACT program concentrates on those who are difficult to get into traditional treatment.

Treatment comes to the person who is ill rather than expecting them to show up to appointments, and the treatment happens in a supported living environment outside of jail rather than in jail, says Miranda Powell, who leads a team that includes a physician, a Washington County probation officer, two M.A. level therapists, two B.A. level mental health associates, a nurse and a substance abuse professional. Participants often are jailed for “nuisance crimes” such as trespass or abuse of the 911 medical system.

Powell, who ran a similar program in Washington, D.C. says, “the program uses common sense, support in the natural community. It brings services to them, and is available 24 hours a day.”


Oregon Minimum Criminal Sentence Increase, Measure 73 (2010) September 20, 2010

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Oregon Minimum Criminal Sentence Increase, Measure 73, will appear on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot in Oregon as an initiated state statute. The initiative proposes requiring an increased minimum sentence for some sex crimes and repeat DUIs.

More specifically, the initiative would set a 25-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for repeat offenders of any four felony sex crimes. Additionally, it would require a 90-day jail term for a third drunk-driving conviction. The conviction would also be considered a Class C felony if the previous convictions were within the past 10 years.[1]

The measure was certified for the ballot on July 16 by the Oregon Secretary of State. According to reports, of the 136,674 signatures filed for verification, 93,223 or 68.2% were validated. A minimum of 82,769 were required to qualify for the statewide ballot.[2]

Text of measure


The ballot title reads as follows:[3]

Requires increased minimum sentences for certain repeated sex crimes, incarceration for repeated driving under influence.

Result of “Yes” Vote: “Yes” vote increases minimum sentences for certain repeated sex crimes (300 months), imposes minimum incarceration sentence for certain repeated driving under influence convictions (90 days).

Result of “No” Vote: “No” vote retains mandatory-minimum sentences of 70 to 100 months for certain sex crimes, provides no mandatory-minimum incarceration sentence for driving under influence.


According to the description prepared by the Oregon Secretary of State:

Current law imposes mandatory-minimum sentences of 70 to 100 months for certain sex crimes; no mandatory-minimum incarceration sentence for driving under influence of intoxicants (DUII). Measure imposes mandatory-minimum sentence of 300 months for person convicted of “major felony sex crime” if previously convicted of major felony sex crime; defines “major felony sex crime” as first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, first-degree unlawful sexual penetration, using child in sexually explicit display; previous conviction includes statutory counterpart in another jurisdiction, and separate criminal episode in same sentencing proceeding. Measure makes DUII a class C felony if defendant previously convicted of DUII, or statutory counterpart, at least twice in prior 10 years; imposes mandatory-minimum sentence of 90 days, at state expense. Other provisions.

Reports and analysis

Oregon Citizen Initiative Review

On August 13, 2010 the panel announced their findings on Measure 73. According to reports, 21 of the 24 panelists opposed the proposed measure citing that it would cost too much and limit judges’ power. Of the three that supported the measure, they said the harsher penalties could help deter crime and increase public safety.[4][5]

The statements by the majority of the panel, those in favor and those opposed can be read here.

The panel consists of 24 randomly selected citizens. According to reports, organizer Healthy Democracy Oregon said that the panel includes a cross-section of age, ethnicity and party affiliation. The group will hear arguments for and against a proposed ballot measure. At the end of each week, the panel offers a statement based on the hearings and arguments presented during the week.[6] The crafted statements by the panel are printed on the state’s voters’ pamphlet.[7]

In 2009 the Oregon State Legislature endorsed the Citizen Initiative Review as a pilot project. According to Healthy Democracy Oregon, organizers of the project, no state tax money is involved in the process. The total cost is estimated at $150,000 and is funded through grants and private donations. The project is evaluated by a team from the University of Washington.[7]

Response to review

Opponent of the proposed measure, Gail Meyer of the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said she thought the process was successful and provided voters a new level of exposure to all of the details of a ballot measure.[8]

However, not everybody agreed the process worked well. Former Lane County District Attorney Doug Harcleroad, of the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance, said the process was flawed. Harcleroad argues that misleading and inaccurate information was provided to the panelists and not enough time was made available to counter the misinformation.[8] According to an article published on OregonCatalyst.com, the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance argues that there are numerous other flaws in the process. Such cited flaws include: unbalanced background witnesses, limited search for information due to poor time allocation, and the accuracy of information was questionable.[9]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Oregon ballot measures, 2010



See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
August 18-21, 2010 Grove Insight 62% 21% 16% 600

Path to the ballot

See also: Oregon signature requirements and 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs

Initiative petitions for statutes required six percent of 1,379,475, or 82,769 signatures. The deadline for filing signatures for the November 2, 2010 ballot was July 2, 2010. According to reports, initiative supporters had already filed 77,429 signatures as of March 31.[13] In May 2010 reports indicated a total of 95,815 signatures.[14] According to July reports, supporters already had 66,716 signatures validated. An additional 47,471 signatures were submitted on deadline day.[15][16] The Secretary of State’s office has 30 days to verify the names.[17]

In total, of the 136,674 signatures filed for verification, 93,223 or 68.2% were validated by state officials. On July 16 the Oregon Secretary of State certified the measure for the November 2010 general election ballot.[18]


NRRC Webinar: Family Engagement in Reentry for Justice-Involved Youth

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The National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) and The Center for the Advancement of Mentoring will host a two-part webinar on engaging family members in reentry efforts and identifying pro-social support for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

Topics: Speakers for the first webinar will provide a framework for a family-focused approach and a glimpse at its application in two settings: 1) the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (addressing family engagement in its juvenile justice facilities and within parole) and 2) a New York-based program (working with families in the community and offering home-based services for court-involved youth).

When: October 4, 2010, 3:30 pm ET

Speakers include

* Shay Bilchik, Founder and Director, Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, Georgetown University
* Ryan Shanahan, Senior Program Associate, Family Justice Program, Vera Institute of Justice
* Rosalinda Rosalez, Ombudsman, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice
* Krista Larson, Associate Director, Adolescent Portable Therapy, Vera Institute of Justice

Click here to register for the October 4th webinar.

The second webinar will be held on November 1, 2010. It will focus on incorporating juvenile justice-involved youth’s family and social network into reentry mentoring programs. Speakers will discuss identifying, recruiting, and training “natural mentors,” such as extended family members, teachers, or neighbors, to work alongside other reentry program-assigned mentors to help youth better transition back into the community and in many instances into adulthood.

To receive more information about the November 1st webinar, as well as other distance-learning opportunities and announcements from the National Reentry Resource Center, click here to sign up for the NRRC’s newsletter list.


John Grisham Talks Of Wrongful Convictions In NC September 19, 2010

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Best-selling author John Grisham lauded a commission in North Carolina that evaluates prisoners claims of innocence, and said Tuesday that it would be duplicated across the country.

Grisham, known for his courtroom thrillers, has lended his celebrity and skills as a lawyer to national efforts to re-examine convictions where doubt exists.

“It’s so far-sighted and progressive, it’s almost a dream,” Grisham said of North Carolina’s Innocence Commission.

The commission earlier this year held hearings that led to the release of Greg Taylor, who spent 17 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

Grisham, 55, has been involved in what he called the innocence movement ever since researching and writing a nonfiction book, “The Innocent Man,” about an Oklahoma man wrongly sentenced to death row.

Even as a former public defender in Mississippi, Grisham said he wasn’t fully aware of how widespread wrongful convictions are until he began his research.

“I realized there are a lot of innocent people in prison, and most Americans don’t believe that, but it’s true,” he told reporters before addressing nearly 2,000 people at Wake Forest University.

Grisham, invited as part of the university law school’s Innocence and Justice Clinic, also touched on recent revelations brought to light by the Taylor case.

During Taylor’s hearings in February, a State Bureau of Investigation agent testified that analysts did not always include the complete results of blood tests on lab reports that were submitted to court.

The testimony led to a review of the lab’s blood unit by two former federal law enforcement agents. The scathing report found that eight analysts omitted, overstated or falsely reported blood evidence in dozens of cases, including three that ended in executions and another where two men were imprisoned for killing Michael Jordan’s father.

The report did not conclude that any innocent people were convicted. In some cases, there was additional evidence or admissions of guilt.

But the state’s attorney general has ordered prosecutors and defense lawyers to check whether tainted lab reports helped lead to confessions or guilty pleas.

“That’s got people scared to death,” Grisham said, particularly the possibility that innocent people may have been executed.

“We’re going to wake up one day with the clear knowledge, clear proof, that we’ve executed the wrong person,” he said.

Taylor attended the talk and said he hopes Grisham’s message sticks with the law students in the crowd.

“I’d hope they’ll be influenced by him, and especially by what he’s saying about how important the innocence project is,” Taylor said.


Just Say No To Measure 73

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Here’s an editorial from the Eugene Register Guard:

It won’t be easy for many Oregonians to vote no on Kevin Mannix’s latest anti-crime initiative, which would mandate tougher sentences on sex offenders and repeat drunken drivers.

But that’s exactly what they should do — cast a clear and emphatic no vote on Measure 73, and then call friends who haven’t voted yet and urge them to do the same.

Say this much for Mannix, the former gubernatorial candidate turned serial petitioner: The guy knows how to put together an initiative that gleams like the latest model on an auto showroom floor. The thought of locking away repeat sex offenders for 25 years appeals to anyone fed up with reading about convicted rapists released from prison only to resume their predatory ways. And it’s hard not to mutter an amen at the thought of getting drunken drivers off the road and behind bars for 90 days after their third conviction.

But as any Oregonian who has shopped for cars knows, it’s wise to look under the hood before signing on the dotted line. In the case of Measure 73, there is a revenue-gobbling engine that would cost the state an estimated $238 million over the next 10 years — money that would not be available to pay for schools, higher education and other fundamental state services.

In 1994, voters approved Measure 11, an initiative that put in place mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes. Since then, Oregon’s prison population has doubled from 7,000 to 14,000, and it will continue to grow in coming years.

Oregon can’t afford another unfunded anti-crime mandate. Not when the state faces a $2.5 billion shortfall in the next biennium.

As with many initiatives, Measure 73 has unintended consequences. For example, it is supposed to target repeat offenders, but it could result in a first-time offender as young as 15 years old receiving a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence. There are also redundancies — Oregon already has mandatory minimum sentences for some sex offenses.

Last month, the newly established Citizen Initiative Review Panel, a pilot project approved by the Legislature to let citizens express their views as part of the initiative process, spent a week examining Measure 73. The panel voted overwhelmingly to oppose it, saying that mandating longer prison terms would cost too much and would limit the power and discretion of judges.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley has joined his Democratic opponent, John Kitzhaber, in opposing Measure 73. Both agree that the state cannot afford its price tag.

In a state that is swiftly running out of the money it needs to maintain essential services, Dudley and Kitzhaber are right to oppose Measure 73. Oregon voters should follow their lead and vote no.


TODAY! NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY September 15, 2010

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Today is the day! Over the next 24 hours, thousands of people across the country will pick up the phone and ask Congress to pass S. 714, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act. We hope you will join us!

Call your federal senators TODAY and tell them that it’s time to make our criminal justice system fairer and more effective by supporting the National Criminal Justice Commission Act. FAMM needs YOUR help to ensure S. 714 passes the entire Senate and goes to the President for his signature. Your calls will make an important difference.

Click here to get talking points and contact information for your federal senators.

Thank you!


Please Attend the Prisoner Re-Entry Conference in Portland September 14, 2010

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    Helping prisoners make a successful transition back to the community following release is one of the most important things that can be done to increase public safety and create healthy communities in Oregon . A conference on prisoner re-entry co-sponsored by the Oregon Department of Corrections, the Governor’s Re-entry Council and Prison Fellowship will be held October 25-27, 2010, at the Doubletree Hotel, Portland Oregon.

    Your Are Invited!