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Have You Sent Your Ballot Yet? October 28, 2010

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Just a reminder to get your ballot filled out and mailed.  Hopefully you have already sent it in, but if you haven’t….please don’t wait any longer.  It doesn’t take that long to go through all the candidates and measures.  Unfortunately, the polls are predicting ballot measure 73 is going to pass by a wide margin.  It takes EVERY SINGLE VOTE to try and stop passage.  Please get your ballot in the mail now, if you haven’t already done so.


Measure 73 Is More Smoke and Mirrors On the Fear Front

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Here’s a commentary by Erika Spaet, volunteer with Partnership for Safety and Justice in Oregon

Do you consider yourself to be a foolish person? I certainly don’t. But that’s what tough-on-crime forces in this state think we are: dumb. By using scare tactics, inaccurate information and millions of out-of-state dollars, political agenda-setters have put forward — and passed — regressive public safety ballot measures, and now more than ever, we need to be smarter voters.

The most notable public safety ballot measure is Measure 11. As you know, Measure 11 created mandatory-minimum sentences for 21 crimes in Oregon and exponentially increased our prison population and corrections spending. It was crafted by Oregon politician Kevin Mannix and funded by out-of-state donor Loren Parks.

And now Mannix is at it again. Why? To gain political power. His latest effort, Measure 73, is designed to sucker-punch the public by using fear- mongering tactics that tap into the public’s desire to be safe.

Oregon adopted the ballot measure system in 1902 as a way of giving voters more direct representation in state policy. Since then, Oregon has used the initiative system more than almost any state. It’s even called the “Oregon System.” It’s the same system that got Oregon women the right to vote and gave Oregon workers the eight-hour day. But in the latter 20th century, the system started to be abused. Now, politicos with cash-lined pockets can put things on the ballot — without any public support — that play on public fear and prejudice.

Measure 73 is an excellent example of a public safety ballot measure that would impose a detrimental policy on Oregon’s public safety system — and its economy. The measure would require mandatory-minimum sentences of 25 years for select repeat sex offense convictions and mandatory incarceration for repeat drunk-driving offenses. These two crimes have nothing to do with one another, but there aren’t many voters who, upon first glance at the measure, wouldn’t cry “Yes! Lock ‘em up!”

Don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors of Measure 73 Kevin Mannix’s latest quest for political relevancy. It’s plain bad policy, and I urge Oregonians to vote no on Measure 73.

First of all, it’s an unfunded mandate. Oregon is facing a $3.5 billion shortfall, and Measure 73 has no planned funding source. It would cost a projected $60 million per biennium, taking money away from important services, like treatment and programs for seniors and the disabled, that have been cut too much already.

Disturbingly, kids would get caught up in the harsh sentences of Measure 73. The measure is so poorly crafted that kids as young as 15 could be given mandatory 25-year sentences for sexting. Sexting is a problem, but it doesn’t require extreme prison sentences.

Finally, Measure 73 is the wrong solution for what are serious problems. It doesn’t address the cause of either sexual assault or drunk driving, nor does it treat the problem. Services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence go largely underfunded in Oregon. Last year, almost 20,000 requests for emergency shelter for victims of violence were denied due to a lack of funding. That’s 20,000 people that needed a safe place to stay but who couldn’t get it. Kevin Mannix didn’t bother asking advocates and service providers what would make their clients safer. In fact, coalitions of organizations that provide services to survivors of violence have come out against Measure 73.

There are a lot of messages flying around out there. Proponents of Measure 73 say Measure 73 is only for the “worst of the worst” repeat offenders. This just isn’t true. Because of the way the court system works, a person as young as 15 can find themselves before a judge for the first time and subject to these sentences. Proponents also say that when it comes to funding, it’s the state’s responsibility to keep us safe. It’s about priorities. I’d agree—it is about priorities.

But do we really want to prioritize incarceration, which doesn’t make us safer, over education, treatment and services to victims, all things that do make us safer?

Now, I could paint you a picture of what could be the horrible effects of Measure 73, but I won’t — I don’t want to scare you. That’s Kevin Mannix’s job. Let me instead paint the picture for what kind of community I want.

I want to live in a state where we treat kids like kids and where survivors of violence have a safe place to sleep at night away from their abusers. I want to live in a state where people struggling in addiction have the support and resources they need to be safe and find a way out of their disease. I want to live in a state where people in prison can live with dignity and where we support them to be successful once they’re out. And I want to live in a state where our laws are thoughtfully crafted, voters are educated on the issues, and where the richest person doesn’t necessarily win. That’s the Oregon I want.

Measure 73 is just one of the many “tough-on-crime” ballot measures Oregonians have been forced to consider, and Oregon deserves better. We deserve smart, thoughtful policies that address the root causes of crime and violence and provide services to people who survive that violence.

This is my charge to you today. Learn what the measures are about, ask critical questions and when it comes to Measure 73, vote no. You’re not foolish, I’m not foolish, and we can’t let ourselves be fooled anymore by tough-on-crime ballot measures.


Housing & Reentry Webinar October 27, 2010

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This free webinar will cover promising and replicable practices and program models for creating housing opportunities that support successful reentry for people returning from jails or prisons. Housing is a foundation for successful community reintegration. Without a stable place to live, it is nearly impossible for newly released individuals to positively reconnect to a community or get a job. With a better understanding of housing needs and options, and strong partnerships, housing can be a more successful and effective part of reentry strategies.

When: November 9, 2010, 2:00 p.m. ET

This webinar, facilitated by Shawn Rogers, policy analyst at the Council of State Governments Justice Center, will feature presentations by:

A question-and-answer session will follow the presentations.

Click here, to register for this webinar.

Earlier this year, the CSG Justice Center released Reentry Housing Options: The Policymakers’ Guide. To learn more about this publication, including how to download a free copy, please click here.


Costs Frame Crime-Measure Debate October 24, 2010

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Dueling views on crime and punishment surfaced Friday in Salem when two former Oregon lawmakers debated a statewide ballot measure that would toughen punishment for repeat sex offenders and drunken drivers.

At issue in the Salem City Club debate was Measure 73, the latest get-tough-on-crime initiative sponsored by Kevin Mannix, a former Salem legislator and GOP gubernatorial candidate.

On the Nov. 2 ballot, Measure 73 would increase to 25 years the minimum term for repeat offenders of four sex crimes: first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, first-degree unlawful sexual penetration and using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct.

The measure also would impose a 90-day jail or prison term for a third conviction for drunken driving.

Speaking in support of the measure, Mannix called it necessary to protect the public from the “worst of the worst” sexual predators and from repeat intoxicated drivers who “pose a menace to our society” and “get a free ride in this state.”

Arguing against Mannix’s measure, Dallas attorney Lane Shetterly described it as “poorly crafted,” too costly and a continuation of “business as usual” in Oregon.

Shetterly, who served four terms as a state representative in the Legislature, said the state can’t afford Measure 73. He cited a potential $3 billion budget shortfall in the upcoming 2011-13 budget period, which begins July 1, and a projected decade-long stretch of deficits.

“It spends money we don’t have,” Shetterly said.

He noted that Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley and Democratic rival John Kitzhaber both are against Measure 73. They agree that the state cannot afford its price tag.

Mannix downplayed the costs linked to locking up more sexual predators and drunken drivers. He said the highest cost estimate prepared by the state for the measure says that one-fifth of 1 percent of the general fund would be required to cover the sentences imposed by Measure 73. And even that level of cost, about $29 million per biennium, wouldn’t be reached until five years from now.

Mannix’s debate remarks included many positive references to the public safety benefits derived from Measure 11, a 1994 ballot measure he sponsored that imposed mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes.

Oregon saw a sharp reduction in violent crime from 1995-2005, a period in which the state went from having the eighth-worst violent crime rate in the United States to the 10th-best, he said.

The state’s prison population has doubled to more than 14,000 inmates since Measure 11 took effect, but the boom in the inmate population proved to be far less than originally predicted.

Shetterly acknowledged that Measure 11 boosted public safety and produced “a positive net return.”

But he said the state needs to dramatically change its stance on crime and punishment to deal with grim budget realities.

“Business as usual in Oregon is a thing of the past,” Shetterly said.

Instead of locking up more offenders for longer sentences, he said, the state needs to explore less costly alternatives, ranging from home detention for certain offenders to expanded drug-treatment and crime-prevention programs aimed at keeping people from committing crimes.

“We need to be more creative,” Shetterly said.


Two New Publications Released by Urban Institute

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A wide variety of community organizations have the skills, resources, and motivation needed to address the challenges of jail reentry, including substance abuse treatment providers, homeless shelters, workforce development centers, neighborhood clinics, community colleges, and many others. This guidebook provides community-based organizations (CBOs) with an overview of jail reentry and concrete steps to develop and sustain a reentry partnership with their local jail. It also addresses difficulties that might arise, and provides examples of strong partnerships between CBOs and jails that serve as models.

This guidebook provides instruction for local leaders aiming to improve the efficiency of their justice systems by managing and allocating scarce resources more cost-effectively and generating savings that can be reinvested in prevention-oriented strategies. It describes the steps involved in this justice reinvestment process, the challenges that may be encountered, and how those challenges can be overcome. Although the intended audience is local county and city managers and their criminal justice leaders, this document is designed to be accessible to a wide array of local government stakeholders, along with criminal justice practitioners, consultants, and researchers.


Parks and Prison Ballot Measures Ahead, Poll For The Oregonian Shows October 23, 2010

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Two ballot measures that could have a significant financial impact on Oregon appear headed to victory, according to a new poll commissioned for The Oregonian.

In the poll, conducted by Elway Research, voters strongly endorsed Measure 73, which would impose longer sentences for repeat sex offenders, and Measure 76, which would continue the use of lottery money for parks and wildlife. Both are favored by about 60 percent of respondents.

Measure 74, which would establish medical marijuana dispensaries, has 40 percent support, according to the poll. And only 33 percent of voters surveyed said they would support Measure 75, which would authorize a casino in Multnomah County.

The poll, conducted Oct. 18-19, surveyed 500 likely voters across the state. It carries a margin of error of 4 percentage points, plus or minus.

The ballot measures drew far more undecided responses than questions about candidates. Many poll respondents said they hadn’t heard much specific information about the measures.

Pollster Stuart Elway said that trend is typical.

“Candidate races get more attention and people also have the filter of party identification to help them decide,” Elway said. “There are typically higher numbers of undecided votes because you don’t have to process as much information as you do with an initiative.”

Here’s a closer look at the poll results for each measure:

Measure 73: Prison sentences
Though few groups have come out in support of this measure, it fared well among a wide variety of voters. About 63 percent of women and 57 percent of men in the survey supported it.

The measure, which would require incarceration for repeated drunken driving and increase minimum sentences for certain repeated sex crimes, drew the highest support among 18- to 35-year-old respondents, 69 percent of whom favored the measure.

Leanna Thayer, of Salem, who participated in the survey, said she thinks harsher penalties may dissuade people from committing crimes.

“It’s like with my kids,” said the 34-year-old stay-at-home mom. “Sometimes they don’t respond to a time-out. But, if they lose some of their freedoms or have to give up money from their piggy bank, then that has impact because it hurts.”

The measure also scored high numbers among voters in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes most of central, southern and eastern Oregon. About 69 percent of respondents there supported the measure.

Measure 74: Medical marijuana dispensaries
This measure’s support was even among men and women, but largely split by age and geography. A majority of 18- to 35-year-olds said they favor Measure 74, but most of those over 50 oppose it. The majority of those surveyed in Clackamas, Marion, Washington and Clatsop counties oppose the measure along with most respondents in eastern and central Oregon.

In the 4th Congressional District, which includes Lane, Douglas and Josephine counties, 53 percent of respondents favor the measure. Multnomah County is divided, with 48 percent supporting the measure and 42 percent opposing it. Overall, about 11 percent of voters said they were undecided.

Rita Mahan, of Dallas, said she’s not against medical marijuana, but doesn’t think it’s the right time for the state to start building this new system.

“The state is having all sorts of problems with the budget,” she said. “I’m hearing about cutbacks, schools being cut, shortening prison sentences. I think it’s something that Oregon could look at in the future when there’s not so much turmoil and other issues going on.”

Measure 75: Casino
The poll shows broad opposition to this measure across the state and in all age groups. Measure 75 would authorize Oregon’s first privately owned casino at the former Multnomah Kennel Club racetrack in Wood Village. The measure would amend state law but doesn’t override the casino ban in the state Constitution.

Thirty-three percent of those polled support the measure, 54 percent oppose it and 13 percent said they were undecided. The measure was also the only one opposed by a majority of supporters of both gubernatorial candidates John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley.

Measure 76: Lottery money for parks
This measure drew 60 percent support from respondents in the poll, tied for the highest overall number. But it also had the highest overall number of undecided voters at 17 percent.

Measure 76 indefinitely extends the law that designates 15 percent of lottery revenue for the upkeep and restoration of parks, beaches, watersheds and salmon habitat.

The measure drew the most support from 18- to 35-year-olds — 67 percent — and 51- to 64-year-olds — 66 percent. About 20 percent of respondents over 65 are undecided.


Oregon Prison Costs Pose Top Challenge to Candidates For Governor October 19, 2010

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Reining in prison costs poses a complex, politically risky task for Oregon’s next governor.

The gubernatorial candidates — Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican rival Chris Dudley — have staked out common ground, as well as some divergence, in their prison proposals.

So far, though, neither has offered a comprehensive vision for the 14-institution corrections system.

Both candidates are targeting labor costs as a key to holding the line on corrections costs.

Both have called for examining approaches taken by other states to curb spiraling corrections costs.

Both oppose Measure 73, the latest get-tough-on-crime ballot measure spearheaded by former Salem lawmaker and GOP gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix.

Mannix’s measure would impose tougher sentences on repeat sex offenders and drunken drivers. Dudley and Kitzhaber say that the tougher approach is too costly in the current stark budget climate.

Oregon’s prison population has doubled to more than 14,000 inmates since Measure 11 took effect in early 1995. The voter-approved initiative, also spearheaded by Mannix, imposed mandatory sentences for violent offenders.

As it stands now, the state Corrections Department has a two-year budget totaling $1.25 billion. The agency consumes roughly two-thirds of the money Oregon spends for public safety, which includes state police, probation officers, the Oregon National Guard and more.



Good and Bad News On Recency and Federal Sentencing Guidelines October 13, 2010

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On November 1, amendments to the 2010 U.S. Sentencing Guidelines take effect. Defendants whose federal sentences would have been enhanced by two criminal history points for “recency” of the offense – for example, when an offense was committed within a certain period of time following release from prison – are getting some good news. They will no longer be subject to the additional penalty, thanks to a new amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines that repeals the recency enhancement.

Recency enhancements have been criticized because they double count criminal history, are negligibly helpful in predicting recidivism, and penalize ex-offenders for the failure of the criminal justice system to help them return to secure and law-abiding lives. Problems with the way criminal history is counted are the most often cited reason by judges for varying or departing from the calculated guideline
sentence, and are among the reasons why the Sentencing Commission proposed the guideline change.

But current federal prisoners will get no relief from the new rule, since the U.S. Sentencing Commission did not make it retroactive, declining to vote on retroactivity at a hearing on September 16.

FAMM asked the U.S. Sentencing Commission to make the repeal of the recency amendment retroactive, pointing out that it would enable almost 8,000 prisoners to seek to lower their sentences by an average of 13 months. We reminded the Commission that implementing recency retroactivity would be relatively easy in light of the experience gained in preparing for and carrying out the retroactive crack guidelines, starting in 2008. Of course, FAMM also told the Commission that making the change retroactive would be the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, comments by commissioners indicated there was no support for applying the new rule to people currently in prison. No one supported retroactivity and three commisioners spoke against it, citing, among other things, a letter from the Criminal Law Committee (CLC) of the Judicial Conference of the United States that said it was concerned about the burden that retroactive application would place on the courts. While FAMM understands the concerns, we are nonetheless deeply disappointed by the Commission’s decision.


Reconsidering Oregon’s Detention Policy for Youth Charged with Measure 11 October 12, 2010

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Please read the report here:

Reconsidering Oregon’s Detention Policy for Youth Charged with Measure 11


Register To Vote October 6, 2010

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The last date you can register to vote in Oregon is Oct 12th.  You can go to your City Hall or to DMV to register….WE have to be part of the solution we can’t expect every one else to do it for us….Mannix’s measure will probably pass, but after studying the measure, we need to get out and vote how we see fit.