Measure 11 Misconceptions

CRIME VICTIMS UNITED


On 1/23/00, the Oregonian ran a thoughtful opinion piece in which a Portland resident described a scary encounter that he and his wife had. They were taking a walk near their home when three young men accosted them and demanded money. One had a short 2x4 board and threatened to hit him. The couple chased the kids off with the help of a passing postman.

The author writes:

At first I wanted them to be caught, but now I'm not so sure. What they did carries a Measure 11 mandatory sentence of 60 months. Though probably younger than 18, they would face the full five-year sentence. And after prison they would emerge truly brutalized and brutal - a much greater danger to society than they are now.

This passage demonstrates several misconceptions.

What the author describes may have been a Robbery III, which is not a Measure 11 crime. Even if the youths were charged and convicted of  Robbery II, which is very unlikely in these circumstances, if they had no previous convictions for serious crimes, the judge would have the discretion to give them a non-Measure 11 sentence (see Senate Bill 1049).

Second, people under the age of 18 are not sent to the state prison. They are sent to the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) where they are not brutalized. Rather, they are given an opportunity to receive an education, to receive treatment and therapy and to participate in programs for rehabilitation. A 17 year old youth who is sentenced to 5 years and 10 months for Robbery II, will be kept at the OYA facility until his release at age 22. The only exceptions to this are offenders who turn 18 and choose to move to prison or offenders who show themselves to be unfit for the OYA through attacks on staff or other youth or by refusing to participate in education and rehabilitation programs.


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