Measure 11 and Prison Space


Department Of Administrative Services Prison Population Forecast

Some Oregonians have the impression that the Oregon State Prison is bursting with Measure 11 offenders. This is incorrect.

In the general election of 1994, the voters of Oregon were told that Measure 11 would require the creation of an additional 6,085 prison beds by the year 2001. By April, 2000, the Oregon Office of Economic Assessment's forecast of prison population put that number at 2,571 beds. The 2,571 figure includes 1710 offenders directly attributed to Measure 11 and another 860 "Measure 11-related" offenders (see note 1) who arguably should not be included in Measure 11's impact. At any rate, it is safe to say that the actual impact of Measure 11 has been less than half of the original prediction.

The April 2000 forecast states that the total prison population, as of January, 2000, was 9,494. Of these, 2,711 (29%) were Measure 11 offenders. The number of Measure 11 offenders as a percentage of the total number of people incarcerated by the state is actually much smaller than 29%. This is because of Senate Bill 1145. This bill went into effect in 1997 and mandated that offenders sentenced to 12 months or less go to county jails rather than to state prison. The forecast shows that during 1999 Measure 11 offenders accounted for approximately one-fifth of new inmates. In 1996, this figure was closer to one-twelfth. The change is due almost entirely to Senate Bill 1145.

The forecast for total prison population has declined dramatically. The April 1995 forecast estimated that roughly 20,000 beds would be needed by the year 2005. The April 2000 forecast estimates that number at roughly 13,000 beds. Many factors caused this estimate to change so much. A major factor is that far fewer people are being sentenced under Measure 11 than the initial prediction, which was made by the Oregon Criminal Justice Council in August of 1994.

Note 1: "Measure 11-related" is a term used in the forecast of prison population to denote non-Measure 11 crimes such as Assault III and Attempted Robbery II. The April 1997 forecast gives the rationale for this designation: "The increase in Assault III admissions is believed to be the result of negotiated sentences for crimes that were initially charged under Ballot Measure 11." The forecast includes "Measure 11-related" crimes when calculating the impact of Measure 11.

News Articles on Prison Population Forecasts

The following excerpts are from an Oregonian article written by Michelle Roberts and published on 6/18/98.

"The Oregon Department of Corrections will slow down its prison building boom after a recent analysis showed a continued decline in the number of inmates expected to be jailed during the next decade."

"Government analysts have cut their prison population projections by more than 50 percent since lawmakers first estimated that the number of state inmates would more than double when Measure 11 was implemented three years ago."

The following excerpts are from an Oregonian article written by John Snell and published on 6/30/99.

"Initially, Measure 11 opponents predicted the law would flood the courts and require a huge expansion of state prisons."

"That hasn't happened. In fact, earlier this year, the state lowered its estimate of the prison space it will need, largely because of negotiated pleas."

"The most recent estimate in April said the state would need about a third fewer prison beds than originally thought, due in large part to plea bargaining."

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