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Oregon leads U.S. in prison spending March 1, 2008

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Oregon spends a bigger percentage of its state budget to lock up criminals and supervise their parole than any other state, according to a new study that examined three decades of prison growth across America.

The main reason: Measure 11, the 1994 initiative that set mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes. It is responsible for 28 percent of today’s prison population.

The November ballot will let voters decide whether to attack crime and punishment further. Both measures increase penalties for drug dealers, burglars, car thieves and identity thieves.

An initiative by Republican activist Kevin Mannix would impose mandatory prison sentences for those crimes and add 4,000 to 6,000 new inmates at a taxpayer cost of $128 million to $200 million a year.

The Oregon Legislature last week sent an alternative measure to the Nov. 4 ballot that targets repeat offenders. It would add about 1,600 new inmates at a cost of $50 million a year. The legislative proposal also includes $20 million a year for drug and alcohol treatment and county jails and parole officers.

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