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Listen, teens, Measure 11 means prison June 27, 2008

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Here’s a very well-written article from the Oregonian by Renee Mitchell.  It’s so important to know about Measure 11 and how easily you can be ensnared.  There’s no leeway, if accused you are done.  Defense attorneys council their clients everyday to accept a plea-bargain.  There is no way to defend yourself against Measure 11.  All it takes is a statement from a minor.  No proof that a crime occurred is necessary.  Again, only an accusation sends you to prison.  That is the reality and you better pray to God that it never happens to you.

The two 15-year-old Portland girls who were arrested in a recent light-rail verbal and physical attack on a 28-year-old Vancouver woman are facing a tough reality check that should be a good reminder to the rest of us about Oregon’s no-tolerance law:

Measure 11 does not forgive and forget. It does not take into account whether you’re a good student who made a one-time bad choice or a high-school dropout with a long history of drug-related crimes.

If you’re age 15 and above and you get caught doing the wrong thing or associating with the wrong people, you will face Measure 11 charges. And you will be charged as an adult. And if you’re convicted, you will go to prison for at least five years. With no probation. No parole. And no early release.

And it won’t matter if your parents cry themselves a river before the sentencing judge. It also won’t make any difference if your favorite teacher vouches for your potential. The law is the law, and Measure 11 does not excuse childish impulses.

Tiyana Clay of North Portland and Angela Monique Dow of Northeast Portland were allegedly part of a group of boys and girls who hit a woman after she asked them to tone down their disrespectful behavior.

One of the seven criminal charges now faced by the teen girls includes the Measure 11 offense of second-degree robbery because one of the boys stole a purse and ran from the MAX Yellow Line train after it stopped in North Portland.

"It’s very important that people understand what the laws are that affect teens, because there’s not a lot of awareness," says Tom Peavey, policy manager for the mayor’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention.

Rob Ingram, the office’s director, remembers when Ballot Measure 11 was first passed by Oregon voters in November 1994. It set mandatory minimum prison sentences, with no possibility for any reduction in sentence, such as for good behavior.

Shortly after the April 1, 1995, start date, at least five young males in Ingram’s inner circle — a foster brother, a cousin and several close friends — went to prison on Measure 11 charges. A 24-year-old associate still has 50 more years left on his 60-year prison sentence.

"It was definitely shocking and overwhelming for all of us to see that there wasn’t anything determined by their past criminal history or the situation," Ingram says. "There’s no room for mistakes."




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