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March 13, 2011

Oregon report indicates mandatory minimums transfer sentencing power to prosecutor

As detailed in this local artice, which is headlined "Report on Oregon's Measure 11 incites fierce debate," there is a notable new report in Oregon about the impact of mandatory minimum sentencing in the state.  Here are excerpts:

A political firestorm has erupted over whether Measure 11 is working, pitting prosecutors against defense attorneys, victim advocates against victim advocates.  The state Criminal Justice Commission ignited the arguments with a report that concludes the measure, passed by voters in 1994, hasn't worked as intended....

The commission found, for example, that one effect of Measure 11 has been to shift power to prosecutors, who use the threat of a mandatory sentence to win plea deals on lesser crimes....

Proponents of Measure 11, however, attacked the report as politically motivated. The report was slanted to "push a political agenda, which is anti-Measure 11, anti-incarceration, anti-law enforcement and anti-victims," said Steve Doell of Crime Victims United.

The renewed debate comes as legislators, looking to save money amid the state budget crisis, face several proposals to change state sentencing laws. Gov. John Kitzhaber is seeking to again defer tougher sentences for repeat property offenders, and legislation is pending to stall Measure 73, which would increase sentences for some sex offenders and drunken drivers.

There's no question Measure 11 has had a profound effect on Oregon's criminal justice system. By setting mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain offenses, the measure has been a significant factor in pushing the state's prison population from about 3,100 in 1980 to about 14,000 in 2010, according to a February analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Office. The commission's report found that the state prison system would need 2,900 fewer beds had the measure not taken effect.

March 13, 2011 at 05:30 AM | Permalink


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This real estate web site shows Oregon to have below average rates of crime.


There are direct costs of crime (health costs for injuries and trauma, property damage where replacement cost does not enhance the economy, police, and criminal justice costs, time lost from work, distraction and diversion from productive activity such as studying and working). There are indirect costs which may dwarf the direct costs, loss of real estate value. With an average criminal committing dozens of crimes a year, these costs far exceed the value of the life of the criminal, even using the high $6 million rate. This is economic justification for the death penalty at the earliest age tolerable to the public. One hopes for the discovery of reliable prenatal test.

The feminist lawyer and it male running dogs have nearly immunized the criminal, and totally shielded, enabled and encouraged the amoral, addict mother that spawned him out of wedlock. Welfare benefits worth $25,000, tax free, pay these addicts to not get married, and to separate from the fathers if they are living with them.

Why? To generate massive government employment in cushy sinecures. Feminism is a masking ideology for Communism, if Communism is defined as the promotion of big government. The biggest victim? Black folks, of course, with an excess of 5000 murders each year after year. The total number of lynchings by the other lawyer founded, led and immunized KKK, was 5000, total, over 100 years. Real advocates of racial equality should consider bringing street justice to their real adversary, the feminist lawyer and its male running dogs, instead of attacking corporations and suing the police to deter law enforcement. The self-dealt immunity of the lawyer hierarchy gives good moral justification for violent self-help if legal liability was supposed to be a substitute for violence. If a proposition is true, its obverse is true (If a then B, is true. It is automatically true that If not B, then not A. If legally liable, then violent self help is not justified. That makes it automatically true, that violent self help is justified (not B) if the party is not legally liable (not A).)

The self-dealt legal immunities of judges, prosecutors, and police are bad for these parties because:

1) the immunities justify violent self-help by crime victims and families;

2) the immunities cover up failure and discourage continuous improvement, with only 10% of major crimes getting prosecuted;

3) immunity grows the immune enterprise, and liability shrinks the entire economic sector, not just the defendant's entity. This industrial policy is without competent and authorized legislative input. Immunity is a strong but stealthy form of unauthorized industrial policy by know nothing appellate judges, as evidenced by the naturalistic, historical experiments listed here, of the size of an activity sector before, after immunity or liability:


In the report cited above, these indirect costs, and hidden agenda to grow government even more than from prison expansion, these indirect costs saved from crime prevented are not addressed.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 13, 2011 9:05:11 AM

It's more complicated than just having mandatory minimums. It's also having disparate criminal statutes that punish essentially the same behavior, but different ways. It's like the old George Carlin joke about committing "six sins with one feel" (Google it). It's a crime to possess marijuana, to possess it with intent to distribute it, to conspire to possess it with intent to distribute it, to use a phone while you're doing it, to transport the money from selling it, and in some states not to pay taxes on it, etc.

Federal child pornography law is the perfect example. It is a crime to possess it, and it is a crime to receive it. For some unfathomable reason, receiving child pornography has a mandatory minimum and a 20-year maximum sentence, while possessing it carries no minimum and a maximum of 10 years. No one's ever been able to explain to me how receipt is realistically more nefarious than possession--after all, if you possess it but didn't receive it, then you must have created it, which is far worse. Anyway, I've never seen a CP case where there wasn't receipt, because it almost always is downloaded from the Internet.

But whether this is actually a problem depends on your perspective. Some people don't mind giving prosecutors the power to determine sentences; after all, prosecutors are charged with enforcing laws, so they they don't mind handing prosecutors the discretion to choose which sentences will apply. Others feel that judges should have the central role in determining punishment, because they stand between the prosecutor and the defendant and are best able to mediate the conflicting interests of the public, victims, and the rights of individual defendants.

Posted by: C.E. | Mar 13, 2011 8:35:11 PM

i have to agree C.E. have never been able to get a straight answer to how having multiple charges for the same 5-10 min of stupidty could possible be legal under the double jeopordy clause of the constitution.

as for the fiction stupidity they are from diff jurisdictions i say BULL SHIT!

you are still putting them into multiple chances to lose their freedom and life for the SAME CRIME... sorry to be legal if you have the same law covering the same bit of stupidity then ONE jurisdiction should be the ONLY one to prosecute.

which brings us full circle to another big big big problem with the sytem. multiple prosecutions for the same crime over and over and over if there is not either a complete conviction or a complete ruling of not guilty!

sorry that is also illegal under the constution.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 14, 2011 2:09:33 AM

MMs and harsh sentencing guidelines empower prosecutors to raise the stakes so high that going to trial becomes too risky to chance it -- even for citizens who are innocent or wrongly accused.

What's remarkable here is that it's taken Oregon a very long time (and a budget crisis) to figure that out.

Create a few more MMs and toughen up sentencing guidelines (as some learning-disabled Oregon lawmakers still seem eager to do) and soon trials, relatively rare occurrences now, might become extinct altogether.

Great news for the Legion of Congenital Scolds and Stern Disciplinarians (which typically is well-represented in this blog), but for some of the rest of us it's beginning to feel a little tyrannical out here.

Posted by: John K | Mar 14, 2011 11:27:05 AM

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