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Oregon commission considers easing Measure 11 sentences to spare more prison construction December 18, 2012

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

The state Commission on Public Safety is scheduled to vote this afternoon on a reform package that would roll back prison sentences imposed by voters under Measure 11 and Measure 57.

The change is part of an effort to corral the growing costs of Oregon’s prison system, now costing taxpayers $1.3 billion in general fund in the current budget cycle. State officials say if nothing changes, taxpayers will have to fund add $600 million in the next 10 years to build and operate prisons to house 2,300 more inmates.

The commission is expected to consider removing mandatory sentences for three Measure 11 crimes – first-degree sex abuse, second-degree assault and second-degree robbery.  Voters approved the tougher sentences in 1984.

The commission is being urged to also modify some sentences of Measure 57, targeted at repeat property and drug offenders.

The state’s prosecutors have vigorously fought the changes.  They proposed two of their own that will be considered today – reducing the harshness of marijuana possession and distribution crimes and eliminating prison as a sanction for felony driving while suspended.

Gov. John Kitzhaber is counting on significant reforms to come from the commission. He recently proposed a 2013-2015 state budget that includes no money for new prisons and a flat prison population, currently standing at 14,000.  Corrections Department officials were anticipating opening vacant prisons in Salem and Madras and launching construction of a new prison in Junction City during the next budget cycle.

The governor instead is looking to beef up spending with counties so they can better manage those on probation and parole. He is recommending an extra $32 million for such work, but hasn’t provided details on how the money would be used.  State funding for community corrections work has eroded in recent years.

The Commission on Public Safety also is considering ways to release inmates sooner from prison if they meet certain conditions, such as completing in-prison schooling.

The commission also will considering making the Corrections Department more efficient by driving down the daily cost of an inmate from the current $82.48.

Kitzhaber is likely to support the commission’s recommendations, and then it will be the Legislature’s to chew over the reforms. Any sentencing changes likely wouldn’t take effect until next year and wouldn’t provide any reduction for inmates already convicted of the Measure 11  and Measure 47 crimes.

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1. Sharon A - December 19, 2012

baby steps

2. Cary lundgren - December 28, 2012

They need to do a lot more than that and reduce the measure 11 hate sentences! They need to give the incentive of good time back to all prisoners!
How many years need to be taken, how does that make it better?
The system needs to give the inmates the reduction of time by showing positive changes, allow them to work toward improving themselves through education, being volunteers, making amends, working and donating to victims, and allowing prison reform to be creative to stimulate positive change in inmates!
Help inmates earn their way out of prison! Give them the opportunity to see positive by responding in a positive way!
Our society needs not sentence with the hate of measure 11 which is intended to waste years and years of the offenders lives. It’s wrong to destroy these often young people’s lives, and even take away all incentive to persue making themselves better by learning reform education and feeling remorse! Give them all reductions through good time for the ones who deserve it!

3. M. Johnson - April 7, 2013

I totally agree with the post by Ms. Lundgren. I’m appalled at the lack of justice in the system…innocent until proven guilty is a myth!! My son is a first time offender, who was involved in an altercation with his former roommate while both were intoxicated. Eventhough the roommate initiated the fight, my son was the only one arrested as there were no witnesses…only the roommate’s accusations. The roommate claimed a “weapon” was pointed at him in his police report…but he later recanted to several friends, but not to the police or DA, of course. My son had a do-nothing court appointed attorney who did very little to represent or advocate for alternative sentencing for my son…such as inpatient alcohol rehab. He now sits in prison for a mandatory 60 months with no stipulation for rehab…just do his time!! What a waste of years for my son…who had a home and good paying job prior to this incident. I agree, there are few positive incentives for the inmates…and the least our “justice system” could provide is a reduction in their sentence for good conduct. I will never be the same after going through this experience with my son…and I have lost most of my respect for the Oregon judicial and correction system. Both are based on hate and ruining peoples lives…not reform and providing opportunities for change and improving their lives.
M. Johnson

4. rmhindependence - April 26, 2013

What is the percentage in reduction that is being considered for M11 offenders? For instance, 30% off time left to be served? or 10% off complete sentences given?

5. D Traw - May 23, 2013

We had the same experience with our son as M. Johnson. He was a WITNESS to a tragic accident where a child died. The mother admitted she saw the other car coming yet still pulled out in front of the 1st car. 2 young men in separate cars going home after work, NO drugs or alcohol were involved, only thick fog-as stated in the police report. My son is only listed as a witness as he was turning on the street he lived , where she pulled out of. Somehow the DA decided that he was going to “set and example” about “speed racing” and sentenced both of them under Measure 11 to Man 2 and Assault 2! They will never have a drivers license and always be listed as “violent offenders” for going home after work!!! Yet DUI drivers get less time for killing people! Where is this “justice”? And they get no good time or programs.This has affected our whole family and business since they both worked for us. We have NO respect for ANY LANE CO judge, DA, PD or cops! They are all corrupt and work on Favors” it’s not guilty or innocent anymore. it’s who you know and $$$$ I agree with everything M. Johnson says, our correction and judicial system is just a money maker for the state and a total wate of taxpayers money!

6. Cary lundgren - November 5, 2013

There needs to be some type of fairness to the court system! How fair can it be if you would compare the amount of money used for the prosecution compared to defense! What is the ratio dollars spent to prosecute verses for defense in a on average!
1000 TO 1 HOW FAIR IS THAT!