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

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

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.




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