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Kulongoski To Take On Sentencing Laws July 11, 2011

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Gov. John Kitzhaber intends to name his predecessor, Ted Kulongoski, as his personal representative on a commission reviewing Oregon’s criminal-sentencing laws.

The commission will be led by Chief Justice Paul De Muniz and have members from all three branches of government, including the Legislature.

The commission actually was proposed by Kulongoski in his final “reset” report, recommending steps to revamp state government, that Kulongoski issued a month before he left the governorship Jan. 10.

It will mark another attempt by Kitzhaber to persuade lawmakers to adopt his proposed public-safety changes. Unlike his policy initiatives for education and health care, they mostly were turned aside during the 2011 session.

“One thing that became clear (in the budget process) is that we are really shackled from the constitutional and statutory standpoint,” Kitzhaber said last week at a meeting with the Statesman Journal editorial board.

Kitzhaber’s budget assumed a continued suspension of 2008’s Measure 57, which increased prison time for some repeat property and drug offenders. It also assumed a version of “earned time,” which would have shortened the prison stays of some violent offenders serving mandatory sentences under a 1994 ballot initiative that voters approved as Measure 11.

But both actions would have required two-thirds majorities in the Legislature, because of a constitutional change also approved by voters in 1994. Lawmakers instead reworked the Department of Corrections budget to add back money to offset the presumed savings.

Measure 57 will take effect when the current suspension ends Jan. 1, 2012.

Lawmakers did continue for two more years a 60-day limit on holding probation violators; that limit does not apply to new crimes. They also modified Measure 73, which voters approved in 2010 to require 90-day jailings — paid by the state — for third-time convicted drunken drivers. The measure could have required those drivers to serve 13-month prison terms.

State prisons now house about 14,000 inmates, more than double the total before Measure 11 took effect in April 1995. The two-year, $1.36-billion budget for the Department of Corrections accounts for about 9 percent of the state’s discretionary spending. According to a February report by the Legislative Fiscal Office, it’s almost double the share it had in the mid-1980s, before lawmakers made it a separate department in 1987.

According to May 1 figures by the department, slightly more than 40 percent of inmates are housed for Measure 11 crimes. Slightly less than half are eligible for release within the next 24 months, nearly three-quarters have some problems with alcohol and drugs, and half require or could benefit from mental health treatment.

Lawmakers restored $12 million that Kitzhaber’s budget cut for such programs, and added $1 million for grants to counties for re-entry programs for newly released inmates.

Kitzhaber’s budget also assumed that lawmakers would agree to a ballot measure shifting support of Oregon State Police patrols from the tax-supported general fund to the highway fund, where it was before voters changed it in 1980. But voters rejected previous attempts in 1992 and 2000, and lawmakers signaled early they were unwilling to make a third try against opposition from highway contractors.

“We have fewer patrol troopers now than we did in the 1980s,” Kitzhaber said.

“With a significant increase in population, it is a logical place for the patrol function of the state police — not the whole department — to be in the highway fund, where it used to be. It is not going to devastate our ability to maintain our highways. I am going to continue to look for some way to provide stable funding for state police.”



1. Jennifer Young - August 28, 2011

Yes I think it is overdue to address the way Oregon has conducted itself with its laws concerning what they consider as a Violent Offender…Only completely intentional crimes should fall under this clause!!! The state recongnizes Accidents as violent crimes now though this is what is filling our prisons..don’t be fooled look it up! Also look at New York as a model..really never thought I would say it. But this state took per capita the same amount of money we spend locking people up and put them to work, educated them, got programs going for them, and they cut crime by 45%…look at Oregons stats..we have spent more money and our crime is not lower at all. We have a larger cost to house people that probably would not be there if we had opportunities for them like New York did…Geez Wake up Oregon. Oppression then lock em up! Not to mention Measure 11 is uncontitutional to say the least. One size fits all justice…my son is serving a 23 year sentence for a fatal car accident with alcohol as a factor…I have seen guys with 5 duii’s and fatal accidents get 12 years; something isn’t right…Were is the one size fits all justice there? I grew up in this state for over 50 years and ready to say goodbye! Something has to be done and done quick!! The state is becoming a police state! For instance I have a handicap placard. Need my hip replaced. I put up my old expired one on accident. Went to court. Did you know the law states that it cannot be dropped and stays on your record as if you did not have a placard and you look on record like a dirt bag that parks in handicap spots. The law in Oregon clearly states it will not drop the charges even when shown you have a valid placard..it can only lower your fee to $20. So it forces you to plead guilty. Now that is a money maker and making me look like a low life in the process and taking away my due process to prove my innocence..Oregon WAKE UP! Take a stand write to your representatives…!!!!

2. Cindi Edwards - September 5, 2011

Due process to prove ones innocence.. this is my problem with measure 11 and Jessicia’s law now while I understand and agree that child molester’s and child killer’s need and should be punished. The courts should have to prove that a crime has been commited. And these law’s should be used for what they were intened for not just slapped on anyone and everyone. DA’s and the police should have to investigate and have proof not just a angry wife’s say so before arresting and charging some one with this crime. My son stands accused of so many charges of this he will never see home again and I will die with him behind bar’s. And all because of a vindictive, angry women. I wonder how many other men or women this has happened to. Oregon WAKE UP: here is just one of these non-exsistant crimes Innocent Small-Town Oregon Woman Freed From 116 Year Sentence For Non-existent Crimes. This kind of thing goes on all the time something need to be done.

3. cary lundgren - September 17, 2011

Wasting money to do the wrong thing! Locking up someone/someones family member taking away years of their life! Think about the individual, devastated wasting away the life god gave them! Its wrong and should be done away with!
WIth sentencing guidelines and Judges to see appropriate sentencing Measure 11 is evil and wrong!
Don’t let yourself be guilty of improperly killing the years of someones life! keeping a person from their ability to be a positive part of their family or society!
USA has more people locked up than both china and india put together! and USA is less than 1/6th of their population!USA has the highest per capita of all countries locked up!
When its a friend of yours or your kid or your father then you too will see how wrong it is!
Please fix this wrong in oregon!
Or dial 911 and the police will help you kill yourself!
Ya think I am kidding?
Cary lundgren