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May 22, 2013

Due to budget concerns, Oregon prosecutors advocating for lower drug sentences

Providing a bit of a man-bite-dog sentencing story, this local article reports on a notable set of lawyers advocating for lower sentences in Oregon.   The story is headlined "District attorneys favor drug sentencing decrease," and here are the basics:

A group of Oregon’s top prosecutors on Tuesday advocated lower prison sentences for marijuana and other drug crimes as a way of curbing the growth of state prisons.  The Oregon District Attorneys Association unveiled a plan to cut prison costs at a press conference in Oregon City.

Clackamas County DA John Foote said in a later interview that the plan is a response to legislation intended to save $600 million over the next decade by capping the prison population at 14,600 people.  The legislation has the support of a public safety commission appointed by Gov. John Kitzhaber and relies on reducing sentences for violent and property crimes.

Foote served on that committee and offered a minority report, which Tuesday’s proposal built on. It avoids any changes to Measure 11, but the prosecutors said it still would achieve the desired savings.  However, critics said the plan doesn’t go far enough and would require opening more prisons.

The bill that came out of the committee would remove first-degree sex abuse, second-degree assault and second-degree robbery from Measure 11 sentencing, and some property crimes from Measure 57.  Foote said the DA’s can’t support those ideas.  He said reducing Measure 11 sentences would be dangerous, and said a brief suspension of Measure 57 in 2009 caused property crimes to spike across the state, giving Portland one of the highest rates in the nation.

“(Reducing drug sentences) isn’t something we would do in a perfect world,” he said. “But we think these are the most responsible options available.”

May 22, 2013 at 10:13 PM | Permalink


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If budget constraints are what it takes to get potheads out of prison, I'm all for it. But unless somebody wants to advocate imprisoning Obama, GWB, and Clinton for their respective pot use, it would be better to decriminalize it altogether.

Posted by: William Jockusch | May 23, 2013 2:31:08 PM

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