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....
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.