Truth in Sentencing

CRIME VICTIMS UNITED


Restoring Credibility To Our Criminal Justice System

In 1995, Officer Ralph Parrish was run over by Damon Lee Petrie, leaving Officer Parrish paralyzed, with steel rods supporting his spine, and with painful, twisted broken legs. Petrie had been in and out of prison 5 times in 10 years, committing a new crime each time he was released, most recently after serving 6 months of a 5-year sentence.

In November of 1994, Andrew J. McDonald was stabbed to death by Matthew Thompson, who also murdered Paul Whitcher that night. Matthew Thompson had a previous conviction for a stabbing but was paroled after serving 6 months of a 5 year sentence.

Is it any wonder that criminals didn't take the justice system seriously?

Voters, disgusted by a justice system that showed little regard for innocent people, approved Measure 11 in 1994. Measure 11 sets minimum mandatory sentences for the most crimes. It brought truth in sentencing to Oregon.

Some people feel that Measure 11 is too harsh. They want to throw it out and go back to the prior system - a system that produced horrors like the ones described above and in data collected by Crime Victims United.

In 1999, this issue was presented to the voters of Oregon in the form of Measure 74. Here is an excerpt from the explanatory statement for the voters pamphlet.

This measure amends the Bill of Rights in the Oregon Constitution by imposing a requirement that terms of imprisonment imposed by a judge in open court be fully served . . . This measure bars any statutory change by the Legislature which reduces the term of a sentence already imposed by a judge.

Measure 74 was approved by a margin of 54% to 46%.

Here are some arguments from the 1999 voters pamphlet on Measure 74:

ARGUMENT IN FAVOR

Measures 69 through 75 are part of Ballot Measure 40 "The Victims Bill of Rights" passed by the people with nearly a 60% yes vote in 1996. This measure was part of that "Bill Of Rights".

Oregon's Supreme Court overturned Measure 40 in its entirety using newly interpreted technical grounds. Consequently, the legislators divided Measure 40 into seven separate parts, which included most of Measure 40 and referred these seven measures to the people to be voted on again.

Measure 74 is a "Truth In Sentencing" proposal. It prohibits an administratively reduced sentence once that sentence has been pronounced in open court by the judge. The only exceptions are the Governor's power of reprieve, commutation and pardons along with Judicial authority to grant appellate and post conviction relief.

The measure requires the sentencing judge to explain in open court what programs, rules and procedures may alter the time to be served.

The intent here is that the victim, the press and the public are entitled to know the REALITY of the imposed sentence rather than believing some announced number of months that may have little connection to what is actually served.

In case after case we have seen criminals sentenced only to find later that through some mysterious, little understood procedure, the criminal was back out far short of the announced sentence. Victims and families of victims of all types of crimes, particularly those of sexual assault, are frequently stunned to find that their victimizer is not only out but back in their community. The psychological effect on victims and their families is devastating; communities become outraged and general respect for law and government suffer.

Please vote YES on Measure 74.

Please vote YES for "Truth in Sentencing".

Bob & Dee Dee Kouns
Founders of Crime Victims United
Chief Petitioners of Ballot Measure 40

(This information furnished by Bob & Dee Dee Kouns, Crime Victims United.)

ARGUMENT IN OPPOSITION

My father was murdered in a jewelry store robbery.

As a victim of crime, I am keenly aware of the short-comings in our criminal justice system.

I am appalled, however, by the measures we are being asked to approve in the name of crime victims' rights, Measures 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, and 75. These measures are a fraud perpetrated upon us as protecting crime victims, but which do nothing but provide empty promises.

They have, instead, everything to do with giving the government the same kind of unbridled powers that allowed Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr to run amok in Washington, D.C.

Like most Oregonians, I am in favor of protecting crime victims, and if these measures did so I would urge your support. But crime victims like me and my family are being used in a cynical ploy to gain your vote. Don' let them use our pain to their advantage.

Please Vote No on Measures 69, 70, 71, 72, 37, 47 and 75.

Michele Kohler


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