Oregon Attorney General candidates on Measure 11

In 1994, Oregon voters passed Measure 11 - a measure sponsored by Kevin Mannix and promoted by Crime Victims United. The measure implemented mandatory minimum sentences for a range of crimes.

As a result, Oregon prisons have exploded in size. From the Oregonian, back in April (noted by BlueOregon):

The trend results from more than a decade of explosive prison growth largely fueled by Measure 11, the 1994 ballot initiative that mandated lengthy sentences for violent crimes. Since then, the number of inmates has nearly doubled and spending on prisons has nearly tripled....

More past coverage at BlueOregon here and here.

An alert BlueOregon reader sent us a transcript of the comments on Measure 11 by Attorney General candidates John Kroger and Greg Macpherson. The comments were made on December 7 before the Oregon District Attorneys Association.

We reprint them in their entirety:

John Kroger: I'm a strong supporter of Measure 11. I've appeared in public forums. I've appeared with Representative Macpherson. I've supported Measure 11 in front of audiences, frankly liberal Democratic offices, because I believe in it. As a prosecutor, I understood that having mandatory minimums in violence cases really changes the playing field. It makes it easier to get a disposition in a case. It gives you the confidence to know that when you've put a year or more of effort into a homicide case that you'll get a conviction and sentence that really stands the test of justice. I think it's made the citizens of the state safer. I think they understand that, and I will do everything I can as Attorney General to make sure we don't water down mandatory minimums for violent crimes.

Greg Macpherson: Measure 11 is the law in Oregon, and I think the reason that it works as well as it does is because of the good work of the people in this room. It's inflexible in that it has, on a first-strike basis, a mandatory minimum sentence. So we need to make the punishment fit the crime, and you folks have done a good job of managing the charging process to get people to that result. Measure 11 is just a piece of our public safety system. We have other elements coming at us. We may well be seeing in Measure 40 an extension to drug and property crimes. We need to make sure that we're always using our public safety resources so that the last jail or prison bed is occupied by the person who is the greatest risk to public safety. And as we deal with those needs, we may need to make adjustments to Measure 11. But that needs to be done with the active participation of the people in this room. I will not pursue any changes in Measure 11 without the active participation and support of the District Attorneys.

Discuss.

Comments

  • LT (unverified)
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    Good topic!

    When I saw the AG candidates in joint appearance, there was something at the back of my mind which I couldn't quite remember but will ask now.

    1) Was Measure 11 mandatory minimums for only violent crimes? Or were other crimes involved?

    2) Seems to me that once there was a Mannix measure declaring that the policy should be punishment first and rehabilitation second. May have been the same one about making prisoners work (which made some worry about the effect on wages of nonprisoners). Whether it was Measure 11 or another measure I don't recall. I do remember that was a big question the year the measure was debated.

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      My son is getting charged with a Measure 11 for hitting my abusive ex with a flashlight twice on the arm, along with a friend that cut his head (11 stitches, no x-ray). My son is 16 and his friend is 15. They are facing 70 months and 60 months. Is that justice? This law shouldn't be applied to juveniles, unless they had a record of violence. Neither of these boys did. They just got fedup with my ex just appearing at the house. My son was scared to death of his ex-stepfather and had kept his bedroom window accessible to make sure he didn't just come into our house.

      Justice? This is destroying young lives!! I hate this unjust law!!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    My first reaction to the above is to consider voting for "None of the Above." Measure 11 is too rigid with its one-size-fits-all approach and has resulted in inequities in punishment and sentencing of young offenders who might more profitably have been assigned to some rehabilitation program.

    • (Show?)

      Amen! I know I will NOT be voting for Kroger and MacPherson! I'm sure DA's like this law. It gives them the power and takes it away from the judges. The DA for Coos County has no compassion and pushes this law as hard as possible. It destroys juveniles lives, not to mention how much pain it has caused me.

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    i'm not sure Bill Bodden & i have ever agreed on anything. and we have Kevin Mannix to thank?

    i'm still for Kroger, just very disappointed on this one.

  • admiralnaismith (unverified)
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    Well, now we know why the Republicans aren't officially running a candidate under their own party label. With "Democrats" like Kroger and MacPherson, they don't need Republicans.

    So what's their stance on the "preventative death penalty"?

  • Michael Wilson (unverified)
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    Do corrections officer have a specific union? If so it'll be interesting to see how much and to whom they contribute.

    MW

  • billw (unverified)
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    Why do we have judges ?

  • (Show?)

    Ditto what Bill Bodden said. Like T.A., I've favored Kroger and I suppose I still do, but I am disappointed and voting NOTA may be a viable option.

    FWIW, as a recovering drug addict (19 years and counting) I can look back and see how much I profited from rehab. There are plenty of folks who went to prison who didn't do anything more than I did, but were unlucky enough to do it in a high enough populated area that they got caught, whereas I never was.

    Today I often find that when I tell someone who never knew me before about some of the stuff I did, they invariably look at me and comment that they can't picture me living that lifestyle. That's proof enough to me that rehab can and does work. Maybe not for everyone. But just from a purely fiscal point of view it seems foolhardy to throw money at the more expensive option (prison) without at least making a good faith effort at the significantly cheaper option (rehab).

  • john's student (unverified)
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    this makes me want to cry.

  • John Forbes (unverified)
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    I don't think any of us can agree on what "fair" sentences are. I know someone, nicest person you can imagine, who went to her ex husband's house and shot him 8 times in the early '90s and served only a year or two, I think. Although there might have been past abuse, it seemed more like anger over another women and was obviously quite premeditated. I can see why many would say should got off easy.

    On the otherr hand, I was just reading in W.W about the Grant High school bandits. One just got out after 7 years , but the other is still serving a 12 year sentance. Granted, they were stupid criminal kids who committed a lot of armed robberies with real guns, but never shot at anyone. Compared to the ex wife gunner, they had the book thrown at them which was likely the result of Meas 11. VIolent crime + multiple offenses = years behind bars.

    I am sure the woman should have served more, but am unsure about the Grant High bandits. Is anyone sure?

    I am sure that Republcians don't want to raise taxes to pay for more state cops and other public safety officers and to give raise to lowly paid corrections officers and others.

  • (Show?)

    Those familiar with John Kroger's record as a proscecutor and have have had frank discussions with John understand exactly why he holds the stance that he does. Please inform yourselve's. Macpherson's stance mirrors Kroger's, with a bone thrown to making adjustments. Kroger is equally open to making adjustments.

    I've seen ugly situations ranging from sexual abuse, tweaked out meth parents, felonies, domestic violence and much more in my job. A wrist slap doesn't change behavior. I implore big tent Democrats to do their homework before jumping to conclusions.

    I support John and Greg and hope that Dems will study their positions carefully. We need a state attorney general who deals with reality, not ideals.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Paulie, generally I agree with you. But there have been a lot of Oregonians who registered to vote since 1994 (my young friends and John Kroger among them) who don't remember the debates over Measure 11.

    In less than a minute using a search engine I found the date of the measure and the Crime Victims United argument in favor.

    When I saw the 2 AG candidates together, I realized it would be a difficult decision. Perhaps my decision will be made on just this issue: who does a better job of discussing the promise vs. implementation of Measure 11, whether it needs any tweaking or more serious changes, plus educating the public on the finer points of the issue.

    It seems to me when I saw the 2 candidates earlier in December, Kroger said he supported the serious sentences under Measure 11--but then later he said that petty thieves and young criminals (guilty of property crimes?) should not be jailed under circumstances when they would just come out of jail as smarter criminals.

    That doesn't exactly square with this from the Crime Victims United argument in favor in 1994.

    Another reality is that rehabilitation and probation is the philosophy of Oregon's lawmakers in dealing with hardened criminals. All studies have shown it flat-out doesn't work

    Kroger said he had already shown he is tough on crime but it is also important to be smart on crime. Machpherson was living in Oregon when Measure 11 passed.

    What role does either believe judges should have with first time offenders? If it is rape, murder, or assault, that is one thing. But are those the only Measure 11 crimes or are there others?

    The one which will gain my vote may just be the one who discusses Measure 11 in greater detail--explaining the debate to those who weren't registered voters in 1994, but may have been teenagers who knew someone like the Grant High bandits who got long prison sentences.

    I can think off the top of my head of 2 sterling individuals who were middle aged or older by 1994 and had built major careers. Each had done something stupid in their youth which might have changed their lives forever had they been teenagers in the years of the "tough on crime" movement Mannix has been famous for.

    Do the AG candidate believe there is any role for "rehabilitation and probation " in the 21st century? Do all studies up to the present day show those should never be an option?

    If the debate on this issue is no more nuanced than "Measure 11 works and violent criminals deserve long prison sentences", with little or no discussion of rehab in either the drug treatment or "rehabilitation to turn lives around" sense, why pay attention to this primary? I had thought they were both great candidates, but we deserve an AG who can discuss topics like this openly and in great detail.

  • Michael D (unverified)
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    These are very clearly NOT mirror image statements.

    Kroger is a "strong supporter" and Macpherson states "It's the law", which is a bland statement of fact.

    To paraphrase,

    Kroger's stance is what you'd probably have as a dedicated prosecutor: this gives me more power and helps me stick a case that I've worked hard on. By being dependable, it helps create justice.

    Macpherson's stance is what you might have as an experienced legislator: this helps put our budget in a bind, creates sentences removed from rational judgment, and gives prosecutors too much power. By not being flexible, it undermines justice.

    So, yes, I think they both agree that it "changes the playing field," but they're vastly different statements and I know which one I agree with.

  • no2war (unverified)
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    Does anyone know how if they also support Kevin Mannix and his Oregon Crimefighting Act of 2008 which will abolish Oregon's Medical Marijuana Act?

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    Was Measure 11 mandatory minimums for only violent crimes? Or were other crimes involved?

    Wikipedia has a complete chart of which crimes get which sentences.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    i'm not sure Bill Bodden & i have ever agreed on anything. and we have Kevin Mannix to thank?

    T.A.: Your memory must be slipping. I can recall complimenting you on a couple of your posts several weeks ago, and if I recall correctly I said something like "more often than not I agree with T.A." when you wrote your diatribe against Cindy Sheehan. You had second thoughts about what you said and more or less agreed with my criticism of your attack on Cindy.

  • admiralnaismith (unverified)
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    Why do we have judges ?

    We don't. Since Measure 11, we have bar-code readers instead.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)
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    Huge difference here.

    Kroger is saying that he likes M11 type laws because it shifts an immense amount of power to prosecutors. In the leverage they get in plea negotiations with their charging decisions and in ultimately deciding what a sentence will be. For some reason he thinks M11 has an effect on "homicide" cases. I'm not sure if he was simply using inexact terminology and meant manslaughter cases, or doesn't know that murder cases don't even fall within M11. Hmmmmm

    McPherson is apparently trying to be tactful, but appears to thinks that mandatory sentencing may not in all cases be the most effective tool in optimizing public safety, and perhaps would like to get all the stakeholders, including DA's, together to continue working towards a rational system with the ultimate goal being public safety.

    Before this I was leaning Kroger. Now I'm firmly McPherson.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    We need a state attorney general who deals with reality, not ideals.

    That is the problem with too many politicians. They sell out too often, pandering to the lowest common denominator, to what they perceive as reality and fail to aspire to an ideal. John McCain saw getting the religious right on his side as a reality if he wanted to be elected president so he sold what was left of his integrity to get Falwell and his ilk to support him proving he was prepared to sell the nation down the Potomac to a bunch of would-be theocrats.

    This is not to say people should ignore reality. To do so would be foolhardy, but history books are full of heroes who recognized but rejected current realities and worked and sacrificed for the ideals they believed in. Think Eugene V. Debs, Martin Luther King, Jr., the suffragists, Walter Reuther and other early labor union leaders, and many others.

    On the flip side of the picture, Karl Rove was the supreme realist when it came to getting Bush elected. Too bad for this nation and thousands of now dead and maimed military personnel he wasn't motivated instead by some ideal.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)
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    Correction: M11 of course does effect Murder sentences, not specifically aggravated murder (thats another statutre). So Kroger is basically correct when he says homicide as that includes manslaughter and Murder.

  • (Show?)

    This discussion is indeed disappointing. I hope the candidates will consider what M 11 has done to minority communities in this state. There are proven disparities based on race and ethnicity at every decision point in the criminal justice system, from "stop and talks" to traffic stops to searches to arrests to arraignments to trials to sentencing. This is even more pronounced in the juvenile system. Measure 11 removes an opportunity for correction when mistakes are made.

    We are locking up a lot of people, and there's something sick about that. And the prison system doesn't do much with them. Eventually they get out, and we do a lousy job of helping them re-enter the community.

    Sure, there are some people who need to be taken out of circulation. That doesn't mean it needs to be easy to do so.

    I've heard John Kroger speak at length about the need for more drug treatment, and about needing to be smart, not just tough, on crime. Measure 11 is a pretty blunt instrument.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Wikipedia boils down the nature of the Measure 11 debate (thanks, Kari!) to this:

    Proponents of the measure argued that judges had been too lenient in sentencing violent offenders. They saw the measure as critical for lowering crime rates.

    Opponents of the measure argued that judges should be allowed discretion in sentencing and should be able to account for the particular circumstances of a given crime. They also objected to the requirement that many teenage defendants be tried as adults.

    Since Kroger didn't live through that debate here, perhaps that is why some of his rhetoric on Measure 11 was more abstract and not exactly what was said in the measure debate. Does he think without Measure 11 that judges were too lenient? What are his views on trying juveniles as adults for Robbery ( listed as a Measure 11 offense)? Is robbery a violent offense?

    Back in the days before Measure 11 I was substituting in a small Marion County high school and heard some talk among students in the corridor. A student had done something which caused him to appear before a juvenile court judge, and the rhetoric among the students was similar to old Westerns where someone was called a "hanging judge". The students thought the judge was overly strict.

    But Crime Victims United said during the 1994 campaign that "judges" (as if there were no individual differences) were too lenient. Were they caught in that form of rhetoric/propaganda which broadbrushes all members of a group?

    Does Kroger believe that in any listed Measure 11 offense, including robbery, that judges should have no discretion?

    What troubles me most is that he said something about opposing the current Mannix measure --would put too many people in jail (which would provide them instruction on how to be better criminals) and cost a lot of money. He said it would be better to be smart on crime than tough on crime.

    So, in which cases does Kroger think Measure 11 works perfectly, and in which does he think judges should have leniency to make decisions about the individual standing before him?

    He may be an Elliot Spitzer figure and a dynamite law professor, but if Kroger can't answer such questions, he doesn't want my vote for AG no matter how many people I know who support him.

    As the granddaughter of a prosecutor, I never thought Measure 11 was perfect or that only "soft on crime" individuals would question the details.

  • DW (unverified)
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    THIS is why I'm supporting Greg Macpherson. Kroger would do nothing more than put away 16 yr olds for life and build prisons all over the state. Anyone who thinks otherwise is completely delusional.

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    What I would like to see is a "First Time Offender Law". Spend money on rehabilitation for first time offenders. Yes, LT rehabilitation has proven to be ineffective for hardened criminals, but reducing recidivism by just 1 or 2% can reduce crime rates by as much as 15%. Plus not providing drug treatment and rehabilitation for all inmates is criminal.

  • Anonymous Law Student (unverified)
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    I never thought I'd be defending Kroger, as I think he's a cocky SOB, but...

    I can tell you from the many (too many) classes I've had with Kroger that he is a huge believer in rehabilitation. He thinks it makes economic sense, it makes sense for safety reasons, and it is effective as shown by countless studies.

    The question posed to Kroger was about Measure 11 in general, which is basically a mandatory minimum law for serious person offenses. What EVERY dem hates about measure 11 is a rather small aspect: the mandatory transfer of juveniles to the adult system, aka statutory waiver. Ask him what he thinks about statutory waivers and you'll get a clearer answer, which would be that he doesn't support it.

    In spite of my personal dislike of the man, I have to praise Kroger in that he forms his opinions based on scientific studies, not public polls. The unfortunate reality is that criminal law is often shaped by public polls, especially in Oregon where we are blessed with he ballot initiative process.

    I would urge you to feel Kroger out in his views, through personal interaction, and you'll like the views.

  • Spencer (unverified)
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    It is sad that both "Democratic" candidates appear to be trying to out-Mannix each other. I agree that MacPherson sounds "better" out of the two, but what did he do in the Legislature to try to fix the mess that is M11?

    Kroger is apparently still a federal prosecutor in his heart, and enjoys having complete power over the poor and minorities who are generally targeted by the DA's offices in this state for M11 sentences.

    Maybe somebody should ask them both to read yesterday's CoA opinion in State v. Rodriguez (http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A131050.htm), in which a young woman was sentenced under M11 to 75 months in prison for having a 13 year old rest the back of his head on her breasts while she "caressed his face." Then ask them whether they think that the prosecution did the right thing and whether MacPherson would say to the Washington County DA's office that "you folks have done a good job of managing the charging process," as he said to the ODAA.

    It seems to me that either Kroger is not terribly familiar with M11 ("I will do everything I can as Attorney General to make sure we don't water down mandatory minimums for violent crimes") or is intellectually dishonest enough to pretend that M11 only addresses "violent crimes" and "think[s] it's made the citizens of the state safer." Either option displays his lack of qualifications for this job.

    Ugh. Is there anyone willing to run for AG who has any common sense and integrity?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    In the 1980s a family moved next door to me and proved to be among the finest neighbors I ever had. I could tell from the father's uniform that he worked for the county sheriff, and when I got to know him he mentioned that he worked with juvenile offenders. Then he told me that he was a delinquent when he was a teenager and looked like he was headed for a life of crime, but an old sheriff, as he put it, "took him under his wing" and turned him around. When he spoke to me he indicated he hoped to do for some of the youngsters he worked with what the old sheriff did for him. I can't help but believe he had a number of successes.

    Since this debate got under way I thought what might have happened if, instead of the sheriff's humanitarian actions, an equivalent of Measure 11 had prevailed and decided my neighbor's future. Very likely he would have been sent to prison where he would probably have been initiated in some gang. Then when he was released he would probably have been involved in criminal activities and fathered two or three children who would have grown up to join the local gang. If they weren't killed through their gang activity they would probably have followed their father's career path and gone to prison. Perhaps, this would have continued to a third generation meaning that the direct and indirect costs of sending this young man to prison would have eventually cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention misery for many people. Instead, the state got a very fine public servant.

    One of the problems with Kevin Mannix and the pro-Measure 11 mob appears to be that they prefer the arrogant postures they have adopted to more civilized, humane and judicious approaches. They remind me of an old Chinese proverb that says he who has the weaker mind strikes the first blow. There is, of course, evidence that some attempts at rehabilitation don't work so they use that to support their myopic argument while blindly and callously ignoring instances where rehabilitation does work.

    Unfortunately, a majority of voters in Oregon on occasions prove they can be as asinine as their counterparts in California. The mentality behind Measure 11 was similar to California's three-strikes law. Now that state's swelling prison population is proving to be an enormous financial burden. Guess what! Measure 11 has the potential to do for Oregon what three strikes did for California.

    If we go beyond these two states and look at the nation and consider we have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world and that somewhere around 75 percent of the people approved of the disastrous and illegal war on Iraq, then if the planet lasts long enough historians will very likely look back and define the current generation as the dumbest and most barbaric.

  • (Show?)

    It gives you the confidence to know that when you've put a year or more of effort into a homicide case that you'll get a conviction and sentence that really stands the test of justice.

    Kroger is talking about justice. Now I don't know what the numbers look like with regard to what follows, but it is important to remember that to some people the promise of M11 wasn't justice as punitive reprisal; instead, the idea was to finally get rid of disparity in criminal sentencing. I think Kroger would argue that justice requires two individuals convicted of near identical offenses be sentenced to near identical terms in prison.

    Some argue that disparity in sentencing is the natural result of judges exercising their discretion––that no crime or criminal are identical––and that disparity in sentencing thus is the natural result of a legal system trying to achieve justice in the particular situation. As an ideal I support this approach, but the reality is that judicial discretion created disparity in sentencing that broke right along racial, ethnic, and economic lines. So, minorities and poor people under the old system too were being held out for more punitive sentences.

    I don't know what the solution is, as both systems seem flawed, but what I find heartening is that Kroger is talking about justice. That is what we should be discussing––what does justice require?

  • MCT (unverified)
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    Measure 11 is an insidious law enforcement tool that has effectively created a huge and profitable criminal justice and correctional facility industry. Nationwide it is rapidly becoming mostly a private sector industry. They even want Bernie G. to hand over the management of the jails to a private corporation, and as little as I like Bernie, and as poor a manager as we are told he is, I think private corporations running prisons (or wars) is a very bad idea.

    I have a friend who knows that qualifying as Violent Offender can be as simple as this: a man can raise some hell in their youth and end up with a felony (1) for car theft, and serve 2 years. Over 30 years later after raising children, working and paying taxes all those years his spouse died, without the two incomes he was about to have his home foreclosed on, and in deep depression he made the ill-thought-out choice to drink and drive drunk. A felony DUII.(2) 6 years after that he was arrested for marijauna possession and happened to have a hunting rifle in his rural home, which qualified the crime as violent, and a felony. (3) (He'd custom inlaid the stock himself, being an artist, but he never saw the rifle again even though the judge ordered it returned to him...he's sure it is in the collection of some law enforcement officer who hunts.)

    When he went to his first meeting with his public defender (pretender), the lawyer held up a laminated color coded chart laying out what crimes would mandate which sentences. The lawyer was in a hurry, but he took the time to tell his "client" You would have been better off if you'd been caught with an ounce of heroin, sentence-wise. The offender served his time, jumped though every hoop, lost his job and is now unemployable. A now aging, soft-hearted and kind man who has never been violent in his life.

    The cops got themselves a "collar" and the D. A., and elected position, carved another notch on his gun to show voters how he got another violent offender off the streets. The offender go a lot of fines & bills from every level of his incarceration & punishement. The State did not pay his way...they sent him the bills.

    And gone are the days when a person could screw up, pay their debt to society, find a livable wage job and get on with their lives. Is it any wonder the ranks of the homeless are swelling? Why are we surprised by "repeat offenders"?

    Does anyone have any figures on how many good citizens would be out of a job if we didn't have such a thriving prison industry? What kind of tax revenue would the State lose if there were fewer jobs in all the off-shoot gravy skimmers that also feed off this system...from suppliers to builders, psych workers, probation officers. A long list. Many of which are by referral BTW...if the probation officer says you need an evaluation of any kind you are sent to and pay for the service. One of my friend's mandated psych evaluations (and he's sane as you are) was done by the probations officer's best friends.

    Measure 11 and all the laws like it have been a large part of creating a criminal class. Few jobs can be found which do not involve a criminal background check. Many employers also run a credit check now, and very few people who've been put through the criminal justice system wringer have good credit. My friend now lives on about $600 SS, and whatever odd jobs he can get without having a contractors license...because he can't pay for or meet their criteria either...though he has the skills needed. All in all it is a pretty long life sentence for the non-violent crimes he committed.

    I am also of the opinion that issues like this are scare tactics and red herrings....taking the public's attention away from all the various ways their tax dollars are being wasted.

    If you'd like to imagine what might come next in the way of criminal justice, I recommend a novel by Lee Jackson called Redemption. If we don't put an end to rampant abuse by those we put in charge of law inforcement it could happen just as the writer imagines it. We're very close to the scenario he creates already and I found that spine shivery.

  • Missy (unverified)
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    There's a quote by the elevator in my office that says, "A society should not be judged by how it treats its citizens, but by how it treats its criminals." My perspective is unique in that I help defend those accused of BM 11 crimes (as well as drug and property crimes). One thing most folks might not realize is that THEY'RE HUMAN BEINGS. This is what the criminal system lacks; a human face. BM 11 simply puts the most difficult cases into a cookie cutter shape so that prosecutors, who have more resources at their disposal and don't have to beg for their money like those in public defense, can claim they are keeping the public safe. Never mind the almost strictly punitive aspect of BM 11 (none of my clients have ever said to me, "Wow, ten years in prison and i'm gonna be a new man!"), it serves to only fracture our communities and make those hardened criminals politicians rail against.

  • pennoyer (unverified)
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    It is sad that both "Democratic" candidates appear to be trying to out-Mannix each other.

    Hardly. Read Macpherson's statement again. He's being lawyerly and obtuse, but he doesn't say that he supports Measure 11.

    He says it's the law. He notes that it's inflexible for first-time offenders, and only works for them because of the change in how they charge people.

    Then, he says it's just one part of the system. Then, he mentions Mannix's new measure. And says that we need to make sure that our jail beds are used for dangerous people (i.e. not the drug/property offenders Mannix wants to lock up.)

    Then he says that we should adjust Measure 11, but reassures the DAs that he'll talk to them.

    That's a long way from Kroger who says he supports Measure 11 and won't "water it down."

  • LT (unverified)
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    "The question posed to Kroger was about Measure 11 in general, which is basically a mandatory minimum law for serious person offenses. What EVERY dem hates about measure 11 is a rather small aspect: the mandatory transfer of juveniles to the adult system, aka statutory waiver. Ask him what he thinks about statutory waivers and you'll get a clearer answer, which would be that he doesn't support it."

    Anon. Law Student stereotypes "every dem" and refers only to the question asked here. But some of us have seen him appear elsewhere and wondered about his grasp of the whole Measure 11 debate. Perhaps this or some other law student might suggest that Kroger or someone from his campaign write his total views here, incl. statutory waivers. Those outside of the Portland area who have already heard Kroger speak once are not likely to see him again in person anytime soon.

    He talked when I saw him about M 11 in "violence cases". Is he saying that every Measure 11 prosecution has been a "violence case"? He can talk about being "smart on crime" and the value of justice, but if this concern by Spenser is not answered,

    It seems to me that either Kroger is not terribly familiar with M11 ("I will do everything I can as Attorney General to make sure we don't water down mandatory minimums for violent crimes") or is intellectually dishonest enough to pretend that M11 only addresses "violent crimes" and "think[s] it's made the citizens of the state safer." Either option displays his lack of qualifications for this job.

    how do we know which part of his rhetoric to believe: the part where he is a strong supporter of Measure 11 or the part where he talks about intelligent approaches to preventing small time offenders from becoming career criminals?

    It is not our job to surmise whether or not he totally understands Measure 11 and agrees with every prosecution under it even in the years before he moved here, or whether he thinks there should be consideration in some cases for first offenders, drug rehabilitation, the story of the young offender being taken under the wing of the old sheriff, etc.

    It is the job of Kroger or his campaign to say either he agrees with all of the M 11 law and every prosecution---no tweaking needed--or else, as the Measure 37 people said of land use planning, "when a law has been in effect for awhile, it is time to look at the result and see if there needs to be any changes".

    My understanding of the intent of Measure 11 was "you break a law which brings you under Measure 11, you get a harsh sentence, no exceptions". When I heard Kroger speak, he talked about it being a great law for punishing those convicted of murder, rape, and assault. But what about the other crimes under Measure 11?

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Both candidates are essentially taking the same position. Macpherson leaves a little more wiggle room, but given his record as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, it is highly doubtful that he actually wants to repeal or significantly change M11 (if I am wrong, he should be more clear about where he stands, and not try to have it both ways).

    For whatever reason, there is not really any major Democrat in the establishment that wants to make repealing or significantly amending M11 a policy issue. Kulongoski has previously passed the buck to the legislature, and the legislature has done nothing on this issue. This is why I really doubt that there is any difference between Macpherson and Kroger on this issue. Macpherson had ample opportunity to wade into this issue, but did not. If his priorities where in legislative fixes, he would stay in his current job and maybe make a run for Speaker (if Merkley goes to Washington) or Governor in two years. Given Macpherson’s lack of action, I think we can safely assume he and Kroger hold the same policy positions on this issue.

    I am a Kroger supporter, but I am not in agreement with him on Measure 11. That said, the AG’s Office is not really the best instrument for amending mandatory minimums. If we want change, we should be putting more pressure on Democratic leaders in Salem to go for a Measure 49 type fix to the system.

  • larryo (unverified)
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    "Kroger is talking about justice."

    Kroger is talking about winning! He is talking about changing - i.e., tipping - the playing field in order to make "it easier to get a disposition in a case" - i.e., to coerce a plea. We see how well this works for the prosecutor in the cases of those people who confessed to a murder they didn't commit and were finally released a couple of years ago. Kroger does not want the "year of effort" he put in working on some case or other to go unvalidated, and the only validation he will accept is a conviction.

    He is also talking about self-aggrandizement and self-validation at the expense of some of our most cherished values: All his hard work must be ratified by a conviction that "stands the test of justice." What does that mean? Does it mean that the person he prosecuted actually turns out later to have been guilty? That is something of which he was ethically required to assure himself before initiating prosecution.

    The facts are clear: The recent downturn in major crime has been both national (immune to Measure 11) and demographic. The trend has been reversing itself since Bush took office and he, and his neocon allies, skewed the economy in favor of the very well-to-do. I keep wondering when the formerly middle class bank robbers will appear (but maybe they already have).

    Measure 11 has been a disaster, rounding up the malingerers and the unlucky with the relatively few, incompetent significant criminals who have been caught in its snare.

    Here's what neither of these people is saying: The process decisions underlying criminal jurisprudence were made for this country 225 years ago. They don't include a playing field "tipped" to favor the state. They include an enormous amount of power granted to the state, on condition that the state recognize certain basic limitations on that power. People like Kroger have been struggling against those limitations ever since.

    I was a prosecutor for 4 1/2 years with an enviable record of convictions (if I do say so myself). I would gladly accept the burden of proof in exchange for the privilege of having the first word and the last word. That is all a competent prosecutor needs, plus a modicum of good judgment(so as not to issue bad cases), and a little street sense (to be able to tell when the cops are lying), to get convictions "that stand the test of justice."

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Macpherson had ample opportunity to wade into this issue, but did not. If his priorities where in legislative fixes, he would stay in his current job and maybe make a run for Speaker (if Merkley goes to Washington) or Governor in two years. Given Macpherson’s lack of action, I think we can safely assume he and Kroger hold the same policy positions on this issue.

    "Given Macpherson's lack of action" it is unlikely the voters of Oregon will want him in the governor's office. Kulongoski's history of inaction has been more than enough. Leaders stand up for a cause. They don't hide in their offices passing the buck. Karen Minnis and Wayne Scott had the guts to stand up and fight for what they believed in. Unfortunately, what they believed in was atrocious. Just as atrocious is the apparent failure of the Democrats to believe in anything worth fighting for.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Bill, to clarify my position, I was not necessarily saying this lack of action was do to political cowardice. I think in the case of all three people I named, they actually do support Measure 11. There is a law enforcement aspect to the Attorney General’s office, so it should not be surprising that people attracted to the office would be more inclined to look favorably on law enforcement. Governor Kulongoski is an ex-AG, and Kroger and Macpherson want the job – so their positions are not surprising. My general point was that commentators’ focus on Kroger was probably off the mark, since Macpherson essentially agrees with Kroger. My evidence for this was Macpherson’s lack of action while he holds the job that would let him amend or repeal Measure 11.

    If we want changes in the law, we should not focus on the Attorney General but instead start putting pressure on legislature and Governor to make something happen in the next session.

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    Measure 11 has been very good for Oregon. Anyone that is against it is just not good for Oregon. It is that plain and simple. Prisons have exploded in population because we were not putting enough people in prison during the "Milk and Cookies" era of Oregon Justice in the 1970's, 1980's and early 1990's. What is shameful is how many people have paid with their lives and how many family members suffered the pain caused by people that felt no one is at fault for the evil they commit in society.

    Anyone that feels Measure 11 has not been good for Oregon. Just do not know what they are talking about. I know...broad statement but it is so true.

    Fred

  • barbara wright (unverified)
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    I am heart sick that M11 was enacted. Cookie Cutter justice doesn't work and M11 is just that. I am dismayed that neither of the candidates discussed the idea of reigning in DOC and their Prison expansion ideas.

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    Barbra,

    Baby rapers, murders and rapist and bullies agree with you. People that are against rape, murder and bullied do not agree with you.

    Good thing for Oreogn Kroger and MacPherson do not agree with you as all of us that are offended by baby rapers, murders, rapist and buillies would have to look else where to cast our votes.

    Fred

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    This nation imprisons more of her own citizens than any other nation on the planet. What does that say about us?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    This nation imprisons more of her own citizens than any other nation on the planet. What does that say about us?

    One thing it says about us is that there are lots of Fred Stewarts around and politicians without conscience or integrity pandering to them.

    Prisons have exploded in population because we were not putting enough people in prison during the "Milk and Cookies" era of Oregon Justice in the 1970's, 1980's and early 1990's.

    What simplistic drivel!!!!! Time for you to go back to listening to Limbaugh, Larson and Coulter to get your bile recharged, Fred.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Fred, are you saying there was not a single strict judge in Oregon (juvenile court or otherwise) prior to the passage of Measure 11?

    Have you been to (or talked to people in) all 36 counties to be able to make a statement such as you did? Or if someone says "Boy, that judge in our county in the late 1980s-early 1990s was sure strict', is that person "bad for Oregon" or reflecting a local truth?

    I tend to be suspicious of flat statements such as "Anyone that is against it is just not good for Oregon. It is that plain and simple."

    Maybe you value flat statements over serious discussion.

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    Kevin,

    The Belly Laugh you and Bill just gave me at least one new stretch mark. Shame on you.

    We put to many people in jail. I am sure we all agree. Where you and I depart is I feel we should be putting Rapist, Murders and Bullies in Jail. I am sure you and I have some common ground on the drug war and people that steal by the millions if not billions.

    Measure 11 is not a drug war tool nor does it address white collar crime. It addresses violent criminals. So blaming measure 11 on addressing baby rapers, murders and bullies as a bad thing only identifies the bad people on the out side of Oregon's prisons walls. I take great delight in outing those that embrace baby rapers because that is what measure 11 has helped Oregon do. Put more baby rapers in prison and keep them there longer. I just wish we could do more as I feel prison is to good for baby rapers, murders and bullies. But for now, I will accept what we have and keep my ideals open for more.

    Kevin, Bill do the women in your life know you are advocates for baby rapers and rapist?

    Fred

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    Kevin, Bill do the women in your life know you are advocates for baby rapers and rapist?

    Fred, I helped the Washington County DA put the bastard who molested my oldest daughter in the State Pen. Then when the guy got out early for good behavior (first time offender), after having admitted to a prison shrink to molesting many other kids, I again helped the DA put him away again - this time as a repeat offender and for a significantly longer time. He will literally be a very old man if he lives long enough to qualify for parole.

    I knew the bastard casually. Not well but well enough to know that true justice would have resurrected his alcoholic father who had beat him and otherwise abused him regularly when he was a kid and make him serve an equal sentence in the adjoining cell.

    Who knows what causes some folks to go off the deep end and commit horrendous crimes? I don't pretend that I do. But I have a very hard time believing that treating public health issues (alcoholism/addiction) as anything other than what they are can't possible be helpful and just might play a much larger causitive role in producing those baby rapists, murderers and bullies which you've ranted about then perhaps you presently suspect.

    Your rhetorical question that I quoted was a cheap, nasty shot unbecoming anyone, including you. I've not responded in kind, even though to do so would be justice by many measures, because I don't see how it could possibly be constructive.

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    Kevin, Bill do the women in your life know you are advocates for baby rapers and rapist? Fred

    Fred, I helped the Washington County DA put the guy who molested my oldest daughter in prison. He'd never been convicted before and thus got a relatively light sentence as a first time offender. While in prison he admitted to having molested dozens of other kids and stated that he'd likely do it again when he got out. When his sentence was up I again helped the Washington County DA put him away, this time as a repeat offender and for a significantly longer sentence. He'll literally be a very old man if he lives long enough to qualify for parole.

    I knew this guy casually. Not well, but well enough to know that true justice, IMHO, would resurrect his alcoholic father who beat and otherwise abused him regularly when he was just a kid and make him serve an equal sentence in the adjoining cell. Not in his stead, mind you... but alongside him. His abuse of his own son might not have necessarily caused the son to become a monster, but it couldn't possibly have helped and certainly seems likely to have at least contributed to creating a monster.

    Alcoholism and drug addiction are public health problems, not "law and order" problems. Do we imprison schizophrenics? Even violent ones? No, we treat them. Not because we're a bunch of namby pamby wimps but rather because it makes no sense to just throw them in prison.

    Fred, your rhetorical question that I quoted was a nasty cheap-shot, pure and simple. I'm not sure why you felt the need to do that but, although by some measures of "justice" I would have been justified in responding in like manner, I haven't because I don't see anything constructive coming from doing so. Was my choice justice or injustice?

    Think about it.

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    dammit... I thought the first one was lost in cyberspace when the submit form acted up and I rewrote the entire friggin' thing. LOL (sigh)

    Admin: please remove the second one as well as this one.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Kevin, I am so sorry for what happened to your daughter. I cannot imagine what you, your daughter, and the rest of your family went through.

    I feel very petty and small for talking about politics and policy, so I apologize for doing so. I have many misgivings about the effects of Measure 11, but I still remain a Kroger supporter (though I was aware of his position before he ran for AG). However, for what it is worth, Kroger is not a “lock them all up” candidate. Treatment, particularly drug and alcohol treatment is the centerpiece of his anti-meth program, and he has explicitly rejected the idea that we can convict our way to safety and justice.

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    I feel very petty and small for talking about politics and policy, so I apologize for doing so.

    Please don't. You have as much right to speak to the issue as anyone else.

    I had thought Kroger was in favor of treatment. But then I read the post here and wondered how to square that with what he said about M11 and the larger issue behind it.

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    LT,

    I have a good memory. I have not kept up on judges over the last several years. I was a lot more into this during the early to mid 90's when I was trying to find a way to resolve all of the criminals, rapist, murders and bullies that judges were allowing to troll through King Neighborhood Association. Back then, I was very familiar with judges all over the state. Can not tell you how many hours I spent in court rooms all over Oregon following cases/trails and learning. It is one of the reasons I along with Rep. Burton wrote a bill to support the victims of rape and child sex abuse in Oregon back in 1993. Keep in mind a lot has changed in Oregon since the Milk and Cookie days. So the fact we have strict judges today means little to nothing. The real question we have to answer is are the laws we have in Oregon to protect society from baby rapers, murders and bullies sound and just enough to be fair to offender and the well being of common society? I feel measure 11 has done a great deal of good for the people of Oregon. If you do not believe me LT. Just ask all of the baby rapers, murders and bullies you hang out with. If you do not hang out with any, measure 11 could be the reason for that.

    How strict judges are today? Do not know....does not matter because Measure 11 is doing what it was intended to do. Keeping bad baby rapers, murders and bullies in jail longer.

    Fred

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      My son is 16. He and another friend hit my abusive ex-husband. They gave him a cut that needed 11 stitches on his head and a few bruises. My son is now facing 70 months in prison and the other boy 60 months, with no possiblity of time-off. My son got Assault 2 charges for hitting my ex twice on the arm with a flashlight. Is that fair? 70 months in prison for a 16 year old, that pretty much destroys his life and mine. I hate this law. My son is not violent, just driven to it after my ex kept coming over to our house when I was out of town. Sure would have been nice to have the restraining order I asked for!!!

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    I am not anything close to an expert on Measure 11 or treatment programs. However, I know for a fact that Kroger’s support for mandatory minimums does not diminish or trump his support for treatment. Even before he announced, he was giving speeches about the need for better treatment options. If you want more information, I would encourage you to contact the campaign, they would be better at explaining his policies.

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    Well, a tough decision just got a lot easier. No way I'll vote for Kroger if that's his position.

    I'm very interested in how these candidates would approach the issue of dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. It's my understanding that Myers' office has been one of the strongest proponents of exploring dam removal. This is an issue of enormous economic and environmental consequence to the state, and it's important that any candidate for AG be well-versed in the issue, and be able to provide a clear overview of how he/she would approach it. If anybody knows of either candidate addressing this, please post a link or info.

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    Fred is the expert; we can all shut up and let him talk to himself. Geeze, Fred, you could at least check out what all M 11 does before going off. Careful about putting rapists and bullies in the same category, when you're telling everyone that if they don't agree with you they're bad people.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Pete,

    In regards to Measure 11, Macpherson and Kroger have the same position, so why does that disqualify one and not the other?

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    A. Rab,

    I think you bring up a good point that can be applied to most people that support Measure 11. You see we do not have a measure 11 that would provoke the state to offer treatment programs early aggressively and adequately enough to help society avoid future problems. The state does have services and it does offer them, but unless something has changed in the last several years. It has never been as well balanced and applied as it should be. The number of sex offenders that have been trained to be so by the abuse they suffered is a good example. Even back in the milk and cookie days of Oregon we did little to support victims of sexual abuse and thus we have reaped a harvest of some very bad people. It did not need to be that way. Clearly there are people that should not and are not in free society today because of the failure to support them when they needed it the most.

    Would be glorious if one day we addressed the causes of anti-social behavior long before a person has nullified their right to live in free society. Until then, we have to just accept we will be putting a lot of violent people away to protect us from them and our failures.

    Fred

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    Sue Hagmeier,

    Thanks for the belly laugh.

    Fred

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    To clarify, I actually differ from the candidates in regards to Measure 11. However, given that both of them support it, that issue is not decisive for me.

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    A. Rab,

    I disagree that they stated the same position. It is the job of the Attorney General to uphold the law, and it would be inappropriate for any candidate NOT to acknowledge that fact.

    It's true, the way that MacPherson put it does cause some concern, and I will be very interested to hear more from him. However, I have a great deal of trust in MacPherson. He has been an effective leader on issues of statewide importance. I will be listening with a friendly ear. But if he considers himself an advocate for the continuation or extension of Measure 11, that will make it very difficult for me to vote for him, too, and I guess my decision will become difficult again.

    Still, as I said in the last post, Measure 11 is hardly the only issue before the AG. I'll be very interested in hearing about other topics as well.

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    I should note, it's less because Kroger takes a position I disagree with, than that his remark strikes me as being profoundly at odds with the office he seeks. If he called himself a strong opponent of Measure 11, that would be a problem too.

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    Pete,

    Isn't one of the responiblities the Attorny General has is to uphold and defend the laws of Oregon? How would his personal position on measure 11 run against that commitment?

    Fred

  • fireslayer (unverified)
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    Isn't there a third candidate? Please!

    These persecutors are both Republicans mascarading as Democrats.

    They are probably of the same ilk that daily perjures themselves at the grand juries producing intentionally over-charged and over-reaching indictments for the purpose of obtaining leverage in negotiations. This sort of pressure leads to many injustices- including false imprisonments.

    The system these not-so-gentlemen represent is in fact a collective borderline personality feeding on it's own cruelty- and sadly mirroring the cruelty of real perpetrators.

    More tough hatred is not what we need. More education and a more humane system would go farther than teaching perps to murder their witnesses to stay on the street and sending them to the graduate school of crime which is the penal instition when we catch them.

    More discerning judges and more honest prosecutors would help teach the citizenry that being law abidding is it's own reward.

  • fireslayer (unverified)
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    Isn't there a third candidate? Please!

    These persecutors are both Republicans mascarading as Democrats.

    They are probably of the same ilk that daily perjures themselves at the grand juries producing intentionally over-charged and over-reaching indictments for the purpose of obtaining leverage in negotiations. This sort of pressure leads to many injustices- including false imprisonments.

    The system these not-so-gentlemen represent is in fact a collective borderline personality feeding on it's own cruelty- and sadly mirroring the cruelty of real perpetrators.

    More tough hatred is not what we need. More education and a more humane system would go farther than teaching perps to murder their witnesses to stay on the street and sending them to the graduate school of crime which is the penal instition when we catch them.

    More discerning judges and more honest prosecutors would help teach the citizenry that being law abidding is it's own reward.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    Pete, I suspect that we are not very far apart, though I support Kroger. Macpherson is basically saying the same thing as Kroger. Both candidates are generally supportive of Measure 11 (Macpherson says it works well) but nether of them are backing its expansion. While I do not know Macpherson’s definitive position, I would be shocked if he was backing reforming Measure 11 since he has not made any moves in that direction while Chairing the Judiciary Committee (which would have the actual power to reform the Measure).

    I agree that there is more to this race, and that is why I am supporting Kroger. On the environment, consumer protection, and child protection and support I find his policies to be more likely to help the state. On the environment in particular I think he will make a big difference.

  • Marty Wilde (unverified)
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    You know, I used to prosecuted in Texas and in the military, both of which use jury sentencing, and both of which handed out much steeper sentences than in Oregon. Now I prosecute in Oregon, which has (largely) judicial sentencing. I find it somewhat ironic that Democrats (a party to which I belong) have supported judicial sentencing over jury sentencing. Shouldn't we be taking the more democratic approach and returning power to the juries?

    The truth is that judges are largely captured by a corrections system that gets insufficient funding to hold all the prisoners that Oregon juries would like to send there. (They want to send them there, but they don't want to pay for them to be there.) So, they tend to give light sentences, including some absurdly light sentences. I prefer the other system. In Texas, juries routinely handed out huge sentences for crimes that offended them. The corrections system then adjusted the prisoner load by early release of prisoners they deemed less dangerous. Sure, there were guidelines - you had to serve out 1/2 of any violent felony time - but mostly release dates were decided by the people who knew the prisoners best - the folks in the corrections departments.

    Were there problems? Of course! But, overall, the system was fairer. If a jury was very offended by a guy's crimes, they might give him 30 years. If he did well, he might be out in three. If he did badly, he might serve 25 or more. I think there's a lot of value in that approach. Judges aren't experts in rehabilitation or even punishment - they're just lawyers with a lot of experience. I'd much rather have the corrections folks, who at least have some training in determining who is really dangerous, make the critical decisions in the process.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    If we are to have a just system in Oregon it will in the end be up to the people of Oregon to demand a system that dispenses justice instead of revenge. If there are more Fred Stewarts than Kevins voting then the Measure 11 mob will prevail and people who believe in true justice for all and that it should be tempered with mercy wherever possible and appropriate will remain embarrassed by their fellow Oregonians. And paying unnecessary taxes for a wasteful policy instead of for an education system that would steer young people into productive and responsible lives.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Here's what bothers me. At the same appearance where I heard Kroger say he supports Measure 11 for violent crimes, I also heard him say something along the lines of what Bill B said, "And paying unnecessary taxes for a wasteful policy instead of for an education system that would steer young people into productive and responsible lives."

    Either there is room in this debate for those like Marty, or we are back to the days of "agree with Kevin Mannix, or you are soft on crime even if you are in prosecution or law enforcement".

    Kroger needs to explain the nuances of what he means.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    I'd much rather have the corrections folks, who at least have some training in determining who is really dangerous, make the critical decisions in the process.

    How does that work in prisons-for-profit where it pays to keep prisoners incarcerated and the corrections officers are barely high school graduates working for little more than minimum wage?

  • Marty Wilde (unverified)
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    That's a good point, Mr. Bodden. I think the answer is that I agree with your implied point - some governmental functions can't be contracted out. I would place the management and parole levels of corrections in this category. I disagree to the extent that I don't see much wrong with contracting out the logistical and front line prisoner control (AKA corrections officer) levels out, provided that there are adequate safeguards. Too often, as I think you're referencing, there aren't adequate controls on the contracted functions.

    Taking the broader view, and putting it bluntly, Oregonians have decided that they only want to fund so many prison beds. We can argue about the wisdom of where that level is set, but I think we should face that reality. At some point, you're just trying to put two gallons of water into a one gallon bucket. Probably the biggest problem with M11 is that prosecutors have little incentive to think, "If I send this guy away for 75 months, how many other guys will get kicked loose because they need the beds?" We tend to think more concretely about the victims, strength of the evidence, and the legal issue presented by the case.

    Perhaps this is as it should be. While I have my opinions about who is a "real bad guy" and who is just another schmoe, I don't claim any particular expertise in deciding on a practical level which guy should get kicked loose for overcrowding. That's what corrections officials do for a living. I like my job, but I don't kid myself about my areas of expertise.

    I guess my real point is that there is a point in having the courts operate in a manner that gives voice to public values. I can't tell you how irate jurors are when someone with 8 meth convictions gets probation, again, because that's what the guidelines dictate. They've just heard that it's a felony and they think the guy should get 5 years. I think they should be able to do that. Of course, I also think that, if they do well and do rehab in jail, they probably should get kicked loose after 6 months, too. I don't see anything necessarily inconsistent with that.

    We've gone to essentially a determinate sentencing system, because that's what was popular when we were deciding how to set up our modern system. "Truth in sentencing" was very popular when they were talking about M11. I tend to think the indeterminate systems work better. "You've got a maximum sentence, but when you get out depends on how you do." We can always argue whether corrections officials have good science backing them up in making their decisions, but at least they're trying to be scientific about it. We don't really have that illusion in the criminal courts.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Let's not forget that the author of Measure 11 ran for Gov. on the slogan of "tough on crime no new taxes" and lost.

    It is time we all be honest about all of this. Fred, would you support raising taxes to pay for both prison and treatment? If not, what would you cut from the budget to pay for what is not currently adequately funded? This state has legislators who say things like "we must have spending discipline" but refuse to talk details. Who do they think they are fooling?

    What bothers me most about many politicians in this state in recent years is the attitude also expressed above, "If you want more information, I would encourage you to contact the campaign, they would be better at explaining his policies. ".

    First, there may or may not be a response from the campaign. Second, if a response is given to an individual, is every individual getting the same response?

    Seems to me far better to make a public statement straight from the candidate/campaign or elected official. Otherwise there could be game playing where different answers are given to different people.

  • A. Rab. (unverified)
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    LT,

    I agree that the state needs a larger discussion about spending priorities and revenue sources. However, the Attorney General does not set spending nor raises revenue. This is something we really need to make the legislature and Governor address.

    P.S. I am not a politician, elected official, candidate for office, or director of a policy workshop. I encouraged somebody to contact Kroger’s campaign because I honestly do not know the answer to the commenter’s question.

  • tcouver (unverified)
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    Very interesting comments re: M11 and Representative Macpherson and Mr. Kroger, candidates for AG, on this topic. Thank you all.

    Kari, can we start a new discussion?

    What do we all think about mandatory minimum prison sentences (meaning the sentencing judge has NO discretion to give a lesser prison sentence or treatment regimen) for some first time offenders or relatively minor offenders of non-violent crimes?

    That is, what do we think of Kevin Mannix' Initiative Petition 40, that more than likely will be on Oregon's November 2008 ballot?

    Here's a quick summary of IP 40: Creates mandatory minimum sentences for drug and property offenses, including:

    36-month mandatory minimum for FIRST OFFENSE Identity Theft, Burglary I, and Delivery or Manufacture of Heroin or Ecstasy; 30-month mandatory minimum for FIRST OFFENSE Delivery or Manufacture of Meth or Cocaine.

    And for those with a "serious criminal record": 18-month mandatory minimum for Forgery I and Motor Vehicle Theft; and 14-month mandatory minimum for Theft I and Burglary II.

    ("Serious criminal record" is defined as at least one previous felony conviction or two previous misdemeanor convictions.)

    Estimates are that IP 40 will cost $250 to $400 million for prison operating costs alone for a full biennium; i.e, that amount does not include prison construction costs for an estimated additional 2 to 3 new prisons. IP 40 will likely require 4,000 to 6,000 new prison beds by 2012 (current prison population is about 13,500).

    I am a victim of fraud, and I well know the HUGE violation that occurs as a result of someone stealing my credit information. I was violated. I am a victim and I am greatly concerned that others not experience what I have experienced.

    It definitely is not the same, but a victim of fraud or identity theft is similar to a victim whose house has been broken into.

    At the same time, I know that the relationship between property offenses and substance addiction (or mental health issues)is absolutely incredible. Not to mention that property offenses are disproportionately female based (not an excuse, simply a fact).

    What to do with those who are addicted (or mentally ill) and commit property offenses? And what will the state of Oregon do with regard to the children who enter the DHS system when their mothers (and fathers) are sent to prison (no discretion) because their parent(s)are automatically sent to prison for property offenses? (Again, no excuses, just simple facts.)

    Drug courts in Oregon are incredibly effective (where there is a judge who spends time and CARES about the individual -- and where there are many other important resources made available, like intensive supervision and immediate incarceration for those who fail treatment where treatment is made available to those who are charged with property offenses and who need TREATMENT).

    Many of the people who are addicted and commit property offenses have NEVER had a person (let alone a judge) who has ever cared about them in their lifetimes! As Fred would say, that's simply a fact.

    Mannix' IP 40 would simply send every one of those who are convicted of identity theft and other property offenses to prison. Period. Nothing to be considered by a JUDGE.

    Oregon's prisons have so few treatment opportunities! I was absolutely appalled to learn about the ccurrent level of treatment resources in prison (outrageously limited) and what has been cut, particularly since 2002. The same is true of treatment resources in our communities.

    I have heard that there are 50 individuals in Multnomah County's jail on any given day who are waiting for addiction treatment programs -- and no treatment resources are available. What a waste of taxpayer money!

    Who are we kidding? Given proposed mandatory minimum prison sentences for property offenses, substantially increased offenders financial obligations, and the miniscule opportunity for treatment and transition (jobs, treatment, support) services, what can we imagine in 5 or 10 years?? I do fear for me -- but more, I fear for the next generations.

    Here is the bottom line, even with mandatory minimum sentences in prison under Mannix' IP 40, property offenders will be released sometime in our lifetimes unless we decide on true life time sentences.

    Tell me...mucho taxpaper dollars for mandatory prison sentences?? OR should this state finally consider some combination of treatment (if the person is addicted or has serious mental illness needs)and serious sanctions if the person fails to take advantage of treatment and help --meaning, incarceration? If the person has no mental health or addiction issues, so be it.

    The Oregon Health Plan used to be available to help with individuals who hit rock bottom and find themselves facing the CRIMINAL JUSTICE system and often facing the termination of their parental rights to their children system as well (imagine that!). The Oregon Health Plan assistance that helped individuals receive treatment in the 1990s and early 2000s through drug courts largely disappeared in 2002 during the recession.

    I would hope that we restore addiction and mental health services and that we impose swift and certain sanctions for those who chose not to take advantage of these servies

    This is a critical juncture. I hope education will help this wonderful state decide what direction is the best accountability of the criminal and dependency systems.

    I have been a victim of fraud. I also am someone who otherwise has been involved in the criminal justice system for almost 30 years!

    Is it all so simple as building more prisons? I think not.

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    Marty Wilde,

    In theory I agree with you as I feel a lot of other liberal minded people would. The only problem is the racist right Uncle Larry's and Franks everyone has that are often called to jury duty. Don't get me wrong. I believe in the jury system, but I also understand it has its flaws and you have articulated one of those flaws.

    When it comes to violent crimes measure 11 made things fairer in Oregon. Maybe not as fair as it should be but better than it was....Hopefully not as fair as it can be. Justice in Oregon does have a tint of racism because there are just too many of those racist right Uncles we all have in our families that we tolerate and love. Sometimes they are not called to jury duty. Sometimes they are Judges, lawyers, police officers and witnesses. I do not see where we can trust juries to pass sentencing in Oregon at this time. What do you think?

    Fred

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    tcouver,

    I need to learn more about this before I comment on any mandatory sentencing for property crimes. I would not want Oregon to become another Texas.

    The cost for public safety is as important to me as rent or mortgage payments. In other words it is a necessity. If it cost 1 billion dollars for public safety....so what? I just want the investment to be worth while and effective. Measure 11....effective. Drug war.....waste of investment. Get the idea?

    Can you or anyone else share some more information on this effort? The one to develop mandatory sentencing for property crimes.

    Fred

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    Bill Bodden,

    Revenge is black men killing white cops on sight because we have been abused by so many of them.....that would not be right but it would be revengeful.

    Putting someone in prison for a very long time after they have had a fair trial and convicted of rape, murder or assult is far from revenege. It is justice.

    Fred

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    LT: "It is time we all be honest about all of this. Fred, would you support raising taxes to pay for both prison and treatment? If not, what would you cut from the budget to pay for what is not currently adequately funded? This state has legislators who say things like "we must have spending discipline" but refuse to talk details. Who do they think they are fooling?"

    I would support to raise or create a tax to invest in the treatment of people that commit non violent offenses. Cutting some of the funds we spend on the local efforts of the drug war to address the causes of drug use would be a good start. The only reservation I have is where would the leadership come from? We really do not have any one on the left side of the table that is inclined to attack this issue in a Mannix fashion.

    Fred

  • tcouver (unverified)
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    Fred,

    You ask: "Can you or anyone else share some more information on this effort? The one to develop mandatory sentencing for property crimes."

    The effort is an initiative that Kevin Mannix has filed almost twice as many signatures with the Secretary of State for verification as are required. You can see the wording of Initiative Petition 40 (2008)by going to the Secretary of State's website at: http://egov.sos.state.or.us/elec/web_irr_search.search_form. It's pretty straightforward. For example, first conviction for identity theft results in a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 36 months. See the first part of my earlier post for the details of IP 40 and the cost.

    What more would you like to know?

  • LT (unverified)
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    The new Mannix measure is very interesting in that Kroger (when I heard the AG candidates speak) came out strongly against it.

    I would like to know if there is any overlap between Measure 11 (isn't robbery one of the crimes?) and the new Mannix measure.

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    LT, the text of Mannix's new measure is here (pdf).

    It doesn't include robbery. It does include burglary.

    I know I often get the two confused. Burglary is breaking into a home and stealing stuff. Robbery is threatening an individual and stealing stuff from them.

    Burglary is considered a property crime, while robbery is considered a violent crime.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Revenge is black men killing white cops on sight because we have been abused by so many of them.....that would not be right but it would be revengeful.

    Putting someone in prison for a very long time after they have had a fair trial and convicted of rape, murder or assult is far from revenege. It is justice.

    Revenge is also wanting to throw some kid in the slammer for making a mistake through immaturity or submitting to peer pressure and assigning a sentence that is out of proportion to the injury caused. Not only is the sentence likely to be excessive, but the consequences of that sentence could be beyond calculation. How about being raped? How about suffering and possible permanent disability because of inadequate health care in prison? How about turning some basically decent kid into someone who will be bitter and anti-social for the rest of his life?

    The emotional factor that is part of revenge is also likely to preclude good judgment and reason and inhibit thoughts such as "there but for the grace of God, the gods, chance, or the luck of the draw might I have gone."

    By all means, we must punish serious crimes, but let's not go overboard and support draconian laws that degrade our society more than it has already been degraded.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Comments have been made above about the Attorney General carrying out the law and not writing it. This is true, but a candidate's opinion on Measure 11 says a lot about his character and it is to voters' advantage if they know this opinion and are able to judge what kind of person they are voting for.

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    Also, the AG is a major advocate for changes to the law being considered by the Lege.

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    A comment from someone who has known and worked with Greg Macpherson for over 30 years: Some posters have seen Kroger's and Macpherson's statements on BM 37 as being essentially the same. They need to re-read them. Kroger's position was written before the presentation before the DA's, and he had time to make his views explicit. He is solidly supportive of the law. Macpherson, on the other hand, sees need for changes. He has a record of working with all parties to achieve compromise, if not consensus, and then actually getting legislation passed, as evidenced by the contentious PERS reform and BM 49. Kroger has the reputation among some BO readers as being the more progressive of the two candidates. However on the significant issue of mandatory prison sentences, he is in lockstep with Kevin Mannix.

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    Posted by: Kevin | Dec 27, 2007 1:12:15 PM This nation imprisons more of her own citizens than any other nation on the planet. What does that say about us?

    It says the war on drugs is s stupid slogan and bad policy, but that has next to nothing to do with the issue of M11 which is about VIOLENT crimes, not drugs.

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    Posted by: Kevin | Dec 26, 2007 6:48:05 PM Ditto what Bill Bodden said. Like T.A., I've favored Kroger and I suppose I still do, but I am disappointed and voting NOTA may be a viable option. FWIW, as a recovering drug addict (19 years and counting) I can look back and see how much I profited from rehab. There are plenty of folks who went to prison who didn't do anything more than I did, but were unlucky enough to do it in a high enough populated area that they got caught, whereas I never was.

    For what it's worth, Kroger wants to refocus our efforts on drugs to treatment and rehab and other diversion programs instead of locking up drug offenders. Measure 11 is about violent crimes not drug offenses. Kroger has the correct take on this.

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    Posted by: fireslayer | Dec 27, 2007 5:35:33 PM Isn't there a third candidate? Please! These persecutors are both Republicans mascarading (sic) as Democrats.

    Statements like the above, make me cringe at being a Democrat. Many of the comments in this thread are an embarrassment in being a liberal and a democrat.

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    Posted by: Bill Bodden | Dec 28, 2007 11:42:09 AM Revenge is also wanting to throw some kid in the slammer for making a mistake through immaturity or submitting to peer pressure and assigning a sentence that is out of proportion to the injury caused. Not only is the sentence likely to be excessive, but the consequences of that sentence could be beyond calculation. How about being raped? How about suffering and possible permanent disability because of inadequate health care in prison? How about turning some basically decent kid into someone who will be bitter and anti-social for the rest of his life? The emotional factor that is part of revenge is also likely to preclude good judgment and reason and inhibit thoughts such as "there but for the grace of God, the gods, chance, or the luck of the draw might I have gone." By all means, we must punish serious crimes, but let's not go overboard and support draconian laws that degrade our society more than it has already been degraded.

    Measure 11 is far from draconian. The canard that the violent crimes being committed and sentenced under M11, by a very small fraction of under 18 offenders, can somehow legitimately be chalked up to a mistake of youth is not just a bogus bit of oratory, but an embarrassment.

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    Mr. Kafoury is far too modest. He's also a former state legislator, chairman of the Portland School Board, chairman of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and an effective advocate and lobbyist for many progressive causes. He's also Deborah Kafoury's dad. (The Deborah Kafoury who preceded Jeff Merkley as Democratic Leader in the House.)

    Thanks for chiming in here, Stephen.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Measure 11 is far from draconian.

    Like beauty, draconian is in the eye of the beholder. We had a case here in Central Oregon where a bunch of young people were drag racing on a backroad and were interrupted by law enforcement. Two young women sped off in a Volkswagen. The passenger while on her cell phone pleaded with the driver to slow down, but the driver ignored her pleas and crashed the car. Both were killed. Two of the young men in the group, though they were not near the scene of the accident, were charged with manslaughter. One took a plea and got a short sentence for a guilty plea. The other didn't see himself as guilty and from what I read in the newspaper I agreed with him. The deaths of these young women were the result of reckless driving by the driver of the Volkswagen. Anyhow, the second young man went to trail. He was found guilty and Measure 11 set him up with six years in prison. I have a hunch he would consider that draconian, and I and many others agree. If I recall correctly, the DA and the judge regretted they were forced to apply that sentence in accordance with Measure 11.

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    If I recall correctly, the DA and the judge regretted they were forced to apply that sentence in accordance with Measure 11.

    Interesting that the D.A. would feel the sentence was excessive, since the D.A. is the one that decides what crime to charge the person with.

    Which is what Macpherson said above. "So we need to make the punishment fit the crime, and you folks have done a good job of managing the charging process to get people to that result."

  • Marty Wilde (unverified)
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    Fred -

    With all due respect, if being Democratic isn't about trusting the will of the people, what is it about? Jurors don't always get it right, but they are often unfairly demonized. In ten years of jury trials on both the prosecution and defense, I have yet to see a jury trial that I thought was significantly influenced by race. Indeed, I got an acquittal defending a black man accused of a violent crime against a women in a rural jurisdiction in Texas before an all white jury. Racism is out there, but the dynamics of jury service tend to mitigate it, in my opinion. Racists these days at least won't publicly identify themselves as such, by and large.

    All -

    Regarding the allegation that we're somehow throwing drug addicts in prison for minor drug offenses, that's simply not true. Minor drug offenses are a crime seriousness level 1 on the sentencing guidelines - probation, no matter how bad your criminal history. In extraordinary cases, the State can get a whopping 6 month sentence. The guys who are doing serious time are those caught committing commercial drug offenses - delivery of drugs for money, delivery armed with weapons, possession of levels of drugs well beyond a personal stash - that sort of thing. Yes, the FEDS are putting people in prison for long stints for drug offenses, but again, it's for distributors. It's purely a myth that people go to prison in Oregon for a long time on simple possession charges.

    Now, it IS true that if you rob someone, or burglarize a house, or steal several identities to support your drug habit that, yes, you will likely go to prison. But isn't that what we want? Isn't it one thing to be an addict, and another to commit serious felonies to support your habit?

  • tcouver (unverified)
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    Under Mannix' Initiative 40 people who deliver drugs (no amount too large, more importantly no amount too small) would be sentenced to either a mandatory minimum prison sentence. No ifs, ands or buts about it. INCLUDING FIRST OFFENDERS.

    And delivery doesn't require any money be exchanged or any large quantity be involved. Delivery simply is the "transfer" of the drug -- like from me to you. I can think of some college students who might find themselves in prison all too easily. But then, some would say the DAs will keep that from happening. I see.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Now, it IS true that if you rob someone, or burglarize a house, or steal several identities to support your drug habit that, yes, you will likely go to prison. But isn't that what we want? Isn't it one thing to be an addict, and another to commit serious felonies to support your habit?

    This appears to me to be an argument to treat the symptoms (consequences) and not the disease (cause).

  • tcouver (unverified)
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    I left out the mandatory minimum sentences in my post above. For delivery of cocaine or meth, the mandatory sentence in Mannix' initiative is 30 months. For heroin or ectsasy -- mandatory minimum of 36 months.

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    Someone on our side of the table has to come up with a better idea. The ideas on how to address addiction in our society at the political level generally come from the right side of the table. At least the ideas with the most energy. Mannix smells blood in the water and feels he can push this through. I am sure he is sincere in his passion for the issue, but clearly does not understand addition and the way addition progresses through the life of an addict or the people around them.

    Questions is who on the left side of the table does? Then why aren't they moving forward with real ideas to generate real policy and the laws to support that policy?

    Those of us that feel we have to many prison that sit around and worry about how many rapist, murders and bullies we put into prison while people like Mannix are looking to tap into a population of people that is perhaps 1000 times larger to incarcerate should step back and reflect if they really know what they are talking about.

    Fred

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    Kari, I'm sure you're right. I may have shot from the hip a little too quick. I'll back off my sweeping statement, but Kroger's statement does strike me as inappropriate for the office he's running for, and Macpherson's seems more acceptable. Measure 11 is appallingly bad policy, and an AG who considers it good "only if implemented well" is far more palatable to me than one who sees it as an unqualified good.

    A. Rab, you say Kroger would be a strong proponent of environmental concerns. I see the Sierra Club has endorsed him. I can't think of a single issue that will have a bigger environmental impact than the future of the Columbia River dams, presently working its way through federal courts. It will also have an enormous impact on the economy and cost of living in our state. I don't see any statements from Kroger on how he would handle the continued prosecution of that case. Any idea why not?

    Actually, there is another issue that could have a devastating environmental impact on the state: an unchecked Measure 37. Macpherson is aces on that one.

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    Questions is who on the left side of the table does? Then why aren't they moving forward with real ideas to generate real policy and the laws to support that policy?

    Because after forty years of "anti-drug" hysteria, no aspirant to political office can win by telling the truth about the Drug War.

    Since this is the case, the discussion of actual sane drug policies will always be countered by any idiot that can play the Fear Card.

    Serious People just don't go there. That's been demonstrated on this blog by various comments disparaging Marijuana advocates, for example, as basicall a weird, self-indulgent, and irrelevant minority.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Because after forty years of "anti-drug" hysteria, no aspirant to political office can win by telling the truth about the Drug War.

    That's the problem with most politicians. They are looking for winning the next election instead of doing what is right. To paraphrase a saying from the Bible (I think the New Testament) what advantage is it to a candidate if he or she sells out to win the election but betrays the nation or the state in the process? The real heroes throughout history fought and sacrificed for what they believed was right even if it meant losing the first battles in the war. The long-standing policy of doing whatever it takes to win the next election helps to explain why this nation is in such a mess.

    This is an excerpt from a statement made by Larry O'Donnell who was the Democratic Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Finance from 1993 through 1995: "If you want to pull the party--the major party that is closest to the way you're thinking--to what you're thinking, YOU MUST, YOU MUST show them that you're capable of not voting for them. If you don't show them you're capable of not voting for them, they don't have to listen to you. I promise you that. I worked within the Democratic Party. I didn't listen, or have to listen, to anything on the left while I was working in the Democratic Party, because the left had nowhere to go." Click here for the complete article

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    Fred, With due respect for what I take to be your underlying concern to protect your family & community, it is an intellectual bullying tactic to say that anyone who raises any question about M11 is defending child rapists. Just is not true & is intended to shut down debate, & is not worthy of you.

    If M11 were repealed entirely, child rape and other sexual abuse is probably the category of crime least likely to change in terms of charging and sentencing.

    Also, what do you mean by "bullies"? In my life this word applies to stuff that is much different from murder or rape, but I think it must mean something different to you & I'd like to understand what. People who intimidate communities with violence or threats of violence? Extortionists? Which M11 crimes cover this, if you know?

    Marty, With due respect, you have on rose-colored glasses about racism in the U.S. How did your Texas jury come to be all white in the first place? Was the victim white, black, Latino, something else? Did your client have a previous record? The previous record question has a bearing on how "war on drugs" inflates the prison population even if it is not directly the result of possession sentences & how coercive charging decisions, discriminatorily applied, contribute to racial disparities in imprisonment.

    It is interesting if jury dynamics are now tending to mitigate racism, though I'd want more than anecdotal evidence before accepting that. Even then, there is a trust issue created by not-very-distant history.

    It is in my living memory that southern juries picked by overtly racist methods were freeing murderers in crimes committed with the clear intent to intimidate opposition to Jim Crow. A few of the more prominent of such cases have been retried in recent years. Abusive charging and sentencing for purposes of racial domination was part of the same system, and the Jena 6 case offers a counter-ancecdote with which to question panglossian views that all is for the best in our now best of all possible racial worlds.

    Is it really surprising that people potentially on the wrong end of such officially sanctioned systematic abuses of the jury system are reluctant simply to trust it now?

    Given the anti-immigrant hysteria being whipped up for political purposes at present I wouldn't trust sentencing to juries in crimes committed by immigrants, whether illegally present or not, or citizens who might be perceived as immigrants.

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    Back to the A.G. -- why was this question being asked? Would the A.G. have a potential role in any effort to reform Measure 11?

    Beyond the question of the principle of mandatory sentencing, it seems to me that there might be evidence that could point to reform within the mandatory sentencing framework.

    Are the particular minimums set by the law appropriate and commensurate? Are there any that should be revised?

    Are there crimes that should not have been included in M11 that are, or ones excluded that should be included? Are there legally-defined crimes that should be broken into parts in order to distinguish behaviors currently grouped together, if judges lack the discretion to make such distinctions at sentencing?

    Is there an issue about how M11 interacts with previous record, in terms of violence or otherwise of previous crimes?

    It seems possible that we have traded inequity in class and racial disparities at sentencing due to judicial discretion for related discretion disparities in charges by prosecutors & in the use of M11 threats to coerce plea-bargains. If so, is there anything that should be done to mitigate that effect? E.g. strengthening the public defender or (other indigent defense if any) system?

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    Kari,

    Measure 11 is your typical starting point. It has its problems and it can be improved. Maybe an overhaul or an update is necessary. Good knows we have had enough data come back on the effects of Measure 11. We should be able to make it better......if we want to.

    What has to be respected is why Measure 11 is necessary. Oregon society is tired of violent people. People are tired of their children, wives and yes husbands being subject to rape and other violent acts by people that care not for anyone or anything. It is the line in the sand that says you must respect the life of others if you deserve the opportunity to live among others...period.

    I would hope that our side of the table improves measure 11 and not wait for Mannix or others like him to take up the cause.

    This is why those that are against Measure 11 make my skin crawl. They are missing the forest for the trees. Measure 11 need not have been as aggressive as it today. There were a hand full of democrats (You Know Who You Are) that felt they could defeat measure 11 by making it so nasty that Oregon people would reject it. Their ignorance provoked what we have today. I think that should be a reminder for all in public policy and politics. All unresolved issues will eventually resolve themselves regardless if we like the end result or not.

    Issue: Violent Crime Left Side: Milk and Cookies (Did not Work) Right Side: Longer Prison Terms (Has Worked Well)

    Fred

  • Warren (unverified)
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    Since several writers don't seem to know what crimes M11 covers, here they are with the associated minimums:

    Murder 25 years 1st degree Manslaughter 10 years 2nd degree Manslaughter 6 years, 3 months 1st degree Assault 7 years, 6 months 2nd degree Assault 5 years, 10 months 1st degree Kidnapping 7 years, 6 months 2nd degree Kidnapping 5 years, 10 months 1st degree Rape 8 years, 4 months 2nd degree Rape 6 years, 3 months 1st degree Sodomy 8 years, 4 months 2nd degree Sodomy 6 years, 3 months 1st degree Unlawful sexual penetration 8 years, 4 months 2nd degree Unlawful sexual penetration 6 years, 3 months 1st degree Sexual abuse 6 years, 3 months 1st degree Robbery 7 years, 6 months 2nd degree Robbery 5 years, 10 months

    Most Oregon crimes have three levels: 1, 2 and 3 with 1 being the most serious and 3 being the least serious. As you can see, Level 3 offenses aren't included in M11, nor are drug crimes. Robbery by the way is different from Theft - robbery means that you took something from a person by force or threat of force, as opposed to theft where you simply took something that didn't belong to you.

    I think a reasonable person would agree that these crimes aren't simply "raising hell" (if you do, you're rationalizing). They all have victims who are left with very bad after effects. I applaud all the writers who "turned their lives around" after committing such offenses, but what about your victims? Have you made their lives whole again (I doubt if you have or if it would be possible).

    As far as M11 being racist, in fact it is exactly the opposite - it ensures that everyone - white, black, brown or yellow serves out at least a minimum sentence. So the children of a rich Lake Oswego businessman will serve the same time as the children of a North Portland janitor. You do the crime, you do the time. These criminals' victims deserve no less.

  • Warren (unverified)
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    Regarding Mannix's proposal many writers need to better inform themselves with the Oregon Statutes - you can find them here. Most of the crimes that are mentioned are Level 1 crimes - these usually involve particularly aggravating circumstances. For example, Burg 1, Theft 1, Forgery 1. These are serious crimes - those unfamiliar with the laws (or those with an agenda) may very likely confuse these with the lower level versions of the crimes and consider them draconian. Rehab is great (and funding rehab programs for those that need them while in prison is probably a good idea), but the first order of business has got to be to get these folks off the streets.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Fred, there are people who will argue about this:

    "Measure 11 is your typical starting point. It has its problems and it can be improved. Maybe an overhaul or an update is necessary. Good knows we have had enough data come back on the effects of Measure 11. We should be able to make it better......if we want to. "

    With response to the "milk and cookies" crack, Kroger didn't live here back then.

    What concerns me is that when I heard him speak he talked about how Measure 11 is a good thing and then later talked about how putting low level felons in jail only helps them learn to be better criminals.

    This is not about left and right, it is about Kroger explaining what Kroger meant. Now if Kroger would address your comments about a possible update, that would be great.

    But continued reference to "milk and cookies", no matter how often you mention that, will not explain the nuances of Kroger's statements in December, 2007. Now if that makes me "soft on crime", "advocating milk and cookies" or some other slogan, tough luck.

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    Fred, being "sick and tired" of something is never a good starting point for making policy decisions. I acknowledge that Oregonians may feel that way, but you seem to treat that as a core piece of your support for M11. Everyone wants to reduce violent crime. As was said above, stop implying that's not so. You're getting in the way of genuine discussion.

  • Josh Marquis (unverified)
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    First a disclosure. I have endorsed Kroger for Attorney General, an office for which I was aggresively solicited to run, but decided not to for among other reasons that I can't afford it (The Deputy Attorney General is paid approximately TWICE what the elected AG is paid).

    Kroger is very much a middle-of-the-roader on these issues and to refer to "mandatory sentencing" without recognizing the nuaces of M-11 is a big mistake, both intellectually and politically.

    The last first: I've been active in Oregon democratic politics for more than 30 years and for all too long the Republican got to hijack the "law and order" label because too many Democrats thought that criminals were a more important constituency than victims, the supreme irony being that victims are all out of proportion to the general population, people of color, the poor, women, and children. A black man is 6 times as likely to be the victim of murder than I simply because I am white. Democrats like Hardy Myers have come to embrace victims rights and what comes with that, an acknowledgment that 8 years in prison for raping a 11-year-old is NOT a Draconian punishment.

    In fact when I speak around the state I ask at meetings for the host to identify the most liberal person in the group and I ask them what should happen to someone convicted of murder. Most of the time they agree that the sentnce that stood for "Life" before Measure 11 - 8 years in real time (10 on paper reduced virtually automatically by 20%) was too little and 25 years for intentional murder did not seem unfair.

    Measure 11 has been substantially tweaked and for virtually ALL second degree offenses (Assault 2, Robbery 2, etc.) judges have an "escape valve"" that allows them to opt out of M-11 even if the DA doesn't like it. When Oregon's public health progress was assessed a few years ago the single greatest improvement was the drop in violent crime, down FAR more than the rest of the country. M-11 the only reason? Of course not but you don't need to read "Freakanomics" to recognize that when the 2% of the population that commits 95% of the crime is incapacitated then crime will go down.

    Mannix's propisal is very expensive but many legislators, particularly members of our party, had the chance to vote on a very moderate version that would have cost about one tenth of Mannix's....at most. They turned it down. The special session will see if candidate McPherson and others in important positions in the legislature are ready to do the right thing and come up with a meaningful alternative that actually puts people at risk of going to prison on their third felony theft conviction.

    I am in court every single day and had to explain to a victim of a $20,000 theft how the judge could NOT, under any cicrcumstances, send this thief with a previous felony record to prison. The reason is that Sentencing Guidelines (which I help oversee as a member of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission) forbids a judge to impose a prison sentence for the vast majority of felons.

    Polling done by both sides shows Mannix's propsal winning by a large measure. Do not make the mistake of thinking that just because crime is not among the top five concerns of voters that they don't care about it.

    Finally I'm tired of this idea that DAs get bonus points for how many people who go to prison. This is a small state and anyone involved in advocating for resources knows they are finite. That said it is not a choice bewteen prison and schools. We need both. And I beleive the Democratic Party needs John Kroger.

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    Josh,

    I am impressed that you're bringing your perspective into this debate, but disappointed to see you perpetuating the same tired false premise.

    You suggest that:

    an acknowledgment that 8 years in prison for raping a 11-year-old is NOT a Draconian punishment.
    is some kind of positive step in the Democratic Party, as though there were truly a movement to let child rapists off with a slap on the wrist. Get real. If such people exist, surely they are a fringe element, and a rhetorical straw man. Can we please move on from this one? If the pre-Measure 11 problem was simply the typical length of sentences for certain crimes, then Measure 11 was certainly the wrong policy -- a problem of quantity was "solved" by instituting a whole new structure. The problem you identify, of judges being unable to impose prison sentences for certain crimes, does sound like a bad problem. But there is a world of difference between having the option to impose a sentence, and a mandatory sentence. Binary choices may work well for ballot measures, but for an expert like yourself to state the issue in such simplistic terms suggests to me that you have an agenda you haven't fully owned up to. The problem with Measure 11 is NOT how criminals are treated; everybody agrees that criminals should be punished. The problem with Measure 11 is with people who are only marginally connected to a crime, being proven as a technical matter to have committed the crime, and given a sentence that no judge in their right mind would impose. Or with DA's having that threat at their disposal while negotiating a plea bargain. In other words, when you say "criminal," you invoke a certain image in the mind of the layman/voter. But in a legal context, it often means something else entirely. Using that disconnect to one's political advantage is disgusting, but it appears to be quite popular these days.
  • Brenda Carney (unverified)
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    Welcome to a nightmare. It is a nightmare that many Oregon families live everyday. This nightmare tears apart families, destroys almost any hope of recovery, and is entirely unforgiving. The nightmare that I refer to is one of self inflection. It is self inflection first by mistake, but impounded by ignorance.

    I don’t believe that there is one reader that would not acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes. We have all made mistakes. We have all sat at the intersection, looked both ways, and proceeded to pull into an intersection only to realize that we were pulling into traffic that we did not see. We have all made poor financial decisions, we have all blamed someone for something that they did not do, we have all hurt someone accidentally by something that we said, and we have all hoped for forgiveness for our one mistake. I also believe that every reader understands the concept of forgiveness. Mistakes happen, and often times these mistakes can be forgiven and corrected.

    Imagine now, a world where first time mistakes were not forgiven. Imagine that every mistake made in life carried an opposite and unequal reaction. If an infant were to place something into his or her mouth should we cut out his or her tongue? We all have cringed after hearing about laws in other countries. We hear stories from other countries that wives are killed for adultery or that thieves have their hand removed. In the history of our own country, we cannot believe that we ever tortured people until they admitted that they were witches or enslaved groups of people because we felt that they were inferior.

    Is it possible that we are still ignorant enough to pass laws where the punishment does not fit the crime? Could we have not learned anything from history and still create injustice from justice. The nightmare that the families live in Oregon is just that. In the name of Justice, the voters of Oregon were convinced to vote for a law that they were told would make them safer. They were told that they could vote for a law that would take habitual criminals off of the street before they could hurt them, and the voters of Oregon believe them. In the name of justice, the voters of Oregon trusted law makers and voted for Measure 11 November, 1994.

    The voters of Oregon were told that this law would stop repeat offenders from committing violent crimes. Oregon voters responded to fear tactics and decided that they would not get mugged, raped, murdered, or assaulted if they voted for this law. Measure 11 assured that violent offenders would be sentenced to minimum sentences with no possibility of early release. They were persuaded using fear tactics. Who would not want to send a violent criminal to prison for a minimum of 5 years 10 months? Of course, people think of getting held up at an ATM machine by a gang of thugs who are carrying guns, bats, and crowbars and being beaten and left for dead along the road. Maybe voters thought about their 10 year old daughter being raped by some pedophile. What ever the case, we think that these criminals should be locked up and throw away the keys, right?

    Maybe this was all put in place by well minded people. Maybe they really did think they were making the world a better place. I am sure that the Oregon voters that voted for the law felt that way, but what if they had been shown the other side of the coin? What if they realized that they were voting for a law that could sentence their child or grandchild to more than 5 years in prison without the possibility of early release because of a sports fight? What if their own innocent child made one mistake and was placed into the system with all the rapists, murderers, and pedophiles? Is it possible that this law could be that unforgiving? The answer to that question is a resounding yes!

    What Oregon voters were not aware of was that they were voting for a law that left judges no room for common sense. A judge could not look at the crime and determine that it was a first time mistake and the offender could most likely be reprimanded in a way that would teach him/her the lesson that needed to be taught. The judge has no room to say that a fight on the football field was a first offence committed by someone that had not matured enough to understand control over his actions in extremely volatile situations. If this situation happened and the offender was found guilty the judge would have no recourse but to sentence the individual to the full sentence.

    Although I do not live in Oregon, I do hold in a stake in this holding. Even though I do not live in Oregon, my wife is a native of Oregon. About five years ago, my wife and my stepson were telling me about this law. As they explained it, they referred to it by name and explained that if two young men got into a fight and one were injured during the event then the other could be charged and sent to prison from 5 years 10 months to 7 years 6 months without the possibility of early release. I remember thinking that there is no place in the world that could violate someone’s civil liberties like that. I know that I told my wife and stepson that just could not be possible in this country. I was sure that they misunderstood and figured that it was just like the local junkyard dog that the stories kept growing until the poodle became Bigfoot.

    Many months after this conversation took place my wife and I were debating about allowing my stepson to go visit his father. I know that seems like a selfish or ignorant statement, but we did not have much trust in his father. There was a history with my stepson’s father and drugs that scared my wife and I. The problem was that my stepson was soon going to turn 18. As an adult, he would have the right to visit anyone he wanted. To compound this issue was the fact that we all believed that my stepson’s father had been diagnosed with colon cancer and the outlook was not good. We talked with his father and honestly believed that the cancer had straightened him out. At the age that my stepson was at and the way that we wanted to raise him, we felt it best to show trust in his young adult judgment and allow him to go visit. I guess that I can say that is when I quit trusting my own judgment and our nightmare began.

    My stepson packed very little. We had all the contact numbers that we believed that we would need, and we made contact with everyone that we could to assure that everything was okay. I can honestly say that nothing alarming happened for the month that led up to his trip. We took my stepson to the airport with his luggage and round trip plane ticket and had our goodbyes. I remember that he reminded me of things to take care of for him while he was gone. My stepson seemed cheerful as he departed into the terminal, but I glimpsed a small look of worry upon my wife’s beautiful face. The one thing that hurts me most today is remembering how I placed my arm around her and said that “everything would be okay”.

    Everything was not okay. Everything did not go wrong right away, but I know now that I made the worst mistake in my life. When my stepson first arrived in Oregon, he called like the responsible young man that he is. For the next two weeks he kept in constant contact. During the conversations, he assured us that his dad was not doing drugs, but he was not in good health. We called often and were able to get a hold of him almost every time we tried. He called us on October 15, 2005, his birthday, and said that he was doing fine and was happy that he turned 18 that day. We had a great conversation with him and wished him a happy birthday. We explained that we were excited to see him and celebrate his birth day on November 1, the day he was to return.

    After October 15, my stepson fell off of the face of the earth. We did not hear from him the next day, and when we tried to call him at the house where he had been staying, we began to hear stories. Immediately we became concerned, but we were also shocked. We had been convinced that everything was going great and we would be seeing him soon. The stories we were hearing were that my stepson’s father was not off of the drugs as had been reported. Instead, while my stepson was trying to get his father to clean up and straighten up, his father had influenced him. My wife and I did not want to believe that. We had heard about the drugs that my stepson’s father had been using and we were told that they were very addictive. It was not that we did not believe that a son could not be influenced by his father to do something stupid, but we did not want to believe that it happened to our boy.

    For days on end, we would call to try to find where he was staying. We followed one lead after another, and my wife contacted her friends in the area to look for him. We called the police on numerous occasions. We explained what our situation was to the police several times and asked if we could file a missing persons report, or if they could help us get him off the street and away from his father before things got out of hand. The police responded to us by saying that an 18 year old could go missing if he chose to, and he could even be involved in drugs unless he got caught. When we asked the police if there was any way that we could get their help to stop this situation before our son got into more serious trouble or got hurt, the police said that they were too busy to help prevent a crime, but would respond if he broke the law.

    My stepson did call. Just now and again, we would get a call from him and he would ask for money and help. Although we were worried, we knew that we should not send him money if there was any possibility that he was tied up in addictive drugs. We offered to buy him a new plane ticket, to have someone come pick him up, or even to reserve and pay for a hotel room for him to go check in to, but he was not the same and he would explain to us that he was in need of help, but he would hang up soon after. This would happen now and again, and my wife and I were stuck. We did not know where to even start to look for him, everyone that we had looking for him would not locate him, and we could get no assistance from the police. At the time, our worry was not that he would be picked up by the police, but weather or not he was even alive. We actually hoped that he would get caught with drugs and placed in jail where we would know that he was alive.

    Our wish was granted when we called the Multnomah County Jail to see if there was any possibility that he may have been picked up and taken into custody. Somehow, we were actually shocked when my wife asked if they had him in custody and the response was yes. He had been picked up for possession of drugs. My wife quickly explained what we had been going through and said that we would fly up and receive him from their custody so that we could place him in a rehabilitation center in Oklahoma. The jail informed my wife that he was scheduled to be in jail until his court hearing, but they could not guarantee that he would not be cycled out of the system in order to make room for more serious offenders. There was nothing that we could do that evening because it was late so we woke up the next morning to make plans. My wife called the jail again only to learn that he had been released at 3:00 A.M. to make room in the jail. My wife asked the jail clerk if they had any information about where he might have gone. The jail clerk gave us an address. We checked the address only to learn that he was not there and they had never heard of him.

    Once again, we went into search mode, but we knew that we could only depend on the police if our son broke the law again. This went on for a couple of months. We would get the occasional call from our son, but he would only say that he was in trouble and needed help, and we would refuse money because we knew that it would probably be used on drugs. We knew that we only had a short time in the prevention mode, but we also knew that we needed to find him. Our son was in hiding from us and the police because he was involved in addictive drugs, and we could not help him because he needed to want to help himself and we had to find him in order to have any influence on him whatsoever.

    We never got the chance to help him in any positive way. Our son was picked up for robbery and placed in jail to await trial. He and another young man entered a public bus and tried to sell drugs to two other young men. After giving the two young men the drugs that they wanted, they informed our son and his accomplice that they did not have any money to pay. Our son and his accomplice told the other two young men that they would pay for the drugs and the young men responded by giving a CD player and a beanie cap. Our son and his accomplice left the bus and the other two young men reported to the police that they were held up at gun point.

    When our son and his accomplice caught wind that they were wanted for robbery, they split up and went into hiding. The young man that was with our son was picked up the same night with the CD player and the beanie cap in his possession. The police found our son’s coat but were not able to find him for two months and twenty-two days. No gun was ever found, and the young man with our son gave up the name of our son in a deal to reduce his time.

    Our son was given a state appointed attorney and he planned on fighting the charges by saying that it was not him. When he realized that that was not going to work, he decided to try to make a deal. He thought he would get in more trouble by saying that he was dealing drugs so he started making a deal figuring that they would get him for theft of some small dollar items in a public place. No gun was involved as the two young men had claimed and even though the bus system had it on camera, there was no evidence of any weapon at all.

    The District Attorney did not care what evidence was available. District Attorneys make their name by being tough on crime. The way that this District Attorney, John Copek, did his job was to threaten our son into submission. Of course, we are all proud to live in a free country that gives us rights and protections against wrongful prosecution. This fact makes us feel safe and makes us believe that only the guilty go to jail or prison. Our son had just turned 18 years old, we did not have the $25,000 that attorneys said it would take to fight measure 11, and he was assigned an inexperienced public attorney who was not making any money off of the case so she was definitely not going to spend the money a paid attorney would to hire a private investigator. John Copek told our son that he was going to prosecute for Robbery I, but he would accept a plea for Robbery II. Copek was not going to accept a non-measure 11 for this offence, and Copek, the Public Defender, and the Judge all told our son that he would be given the maximum sentence if he fought and lost the case. In fear of receiving a longer sentence, our son conceded and pleaded guilty to Robbery II.

    Don’t get me wrong. My wife and I are against theft, robbery, and crime in general. I do not want to have my things stolen, but I don’t think that I should be able to falsely accuse someone of theft because I have some problem with them and have that person sentenced to prison. Many people may read this and say “I am sure that they had enough evidence against your son to prove that he was a violent criminal”, but that just was not the case. The drug deal that took place on the bus was filmed by security camera. On that film, two young men sat across from two other young men for a few minutes. After a few minutes passed, two of the young men got up and walked off the bus. There were other people on the bus and none reacted to anything that happened. When the “victims” reported the crime, there were no other witnesses. The “victims” said that their “assailants” had a gun under a bandana and that they could tell by the tip sticking out that it was a hand gun. I would like to point out that my son’s coat was found, all the stolen items were recovered when my son’s accomplice was caught, the area was searched and investigated, and no gun or bandana matching the description was ever found. My son’s accomplice did not get rid of any of the stolen evidence so why would he have gotten rid of a gun and bandana. My son got rid of his jacket when he learned that the police were looking for him and left his gloves in the pocket, but no gun or bandana was ever found. A reward was placed for information leading to the arrest of my son, but when the police received information on his whereabouts, no gun was ever mentioned. The obvious conclusion is that there was no gun, and no bandana. The security camera showed no display of violence and no witnesses came forward from the bus to collaborate any reports of violence. With no evidence of violence, threat, or a weapon, John Copek demanded a plea to a minimum of Robbery II so that Measure 11 violent crimes law would assure a maximum sentence with no possibility of early release. All of this based was on word versus word.

    Based on this type of Justice, I can claim that I was threatened by every person that I do not like and have them face a choice of paying $25,000 to defend themselves unless they want to plead guilty to a lesser charge that until places them in prison for a minimum sentence. Are we all having visions of the Midnight Train and Turkish prisons?

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