Measure 94 Disinformation Campaign
CRIME VICTIMS UNITED
Measure 94 proponents have worked on their effort to repeal Measure 11 for years. They tried to get a measure on the ballot in 1998, but failed. They succeeded in 2000. Through these years of effort, they have accumulated a large number of supporters. They claim 4500 members (Oregonian, 10/11/2000). Most of them are criminals serving Measure 11 sentences, their families, and their friends. In addition, they have other supporters who are philosophically opposed to long sentences for violent crimes and sex offenses.
It would have been possible for these people to debate the issue in an intellectually honest fashion. However, they have not done so. As detailed in an Oregonian article from 10/28/2000, they have used misleading hypothetical cases, falsified actual cases, and disseminated half-truths, quarter-truths, and one-eight-truths.
Crime Victims United has documented dozens of misrepresentations made by Measure 94 proponents. These misrepresentations were made:
1. On their web page.
2. On television and radio.
3. In their campaign material, including 50,000 copies of their "newspaper".
4. In a large-scale letter-writing campaign.
5. In a mass email sent to the Medford School District.
6. In the voters' pamphlet.
We have substantiation in the form of newspaper articles, letters to the editor, campaign material, and audio recordings for every misrepresentation we allege.
Recently Measure 94 proponents have started to accuse us of misrepresentations. They are hoping to evade being held accountable by blowing smoke. Let them provide substantiation for their claims. They can not do it, because we have made no misrepresentations.
Their misrepresentations started out in on their web page, in flyers they distributed while collecting signatures, in meetings and rallies, and on radio programs.
Their disinformation infected the League of Women Voters. Despite the fact that a league committee had written a well-researched and balanced report on Measure 11 as it affects juveniles, when it came time to write the league's voters' pamphlet, they produced an explanation that could have been written by the Measure 94 chief petitioners themselves.
The disinformation continued in their voters' pamphlet arguments. This resulted in a lawsuit brought by Crime Victims United.
Their disinformation spread to the PTA, which parroted some of the false notions in their statement of support of Measure 94.
In apparent violation of election law, a Measure 94 supporter sent an email to 1200 employees of the Medford School District. The email contained many of the false statements that were in circulation in the Measure 94 camp. Crime Victims United was not allowed an opportunity to refute these false statements.
They sent letters to many of the major newspapers throughout the state. Most of these letters contained erroneous, misleading or false statements. Some of them are discussed on our misrepresentations page. One example tries to obscure the fact that Measure 94 will, with no doubt whatsoever, result in the outright release of hundreds of violent criminals and sex offenders. Another example makes the preposterous statement that "mandatory minimum sentencing has quadrupled the prison population in recent years". Another example leads the reader to believe that 14-year-olds are held in adult prison. With 4500 members and, according to the Oregonian, instructions from the leadership to "tell these horror stories", which have proven to be false or distorted, the letters are pouring into newspapers far faster than Crime Victims United can track them.
On October 30, 2000, on the Lars Larson show to defend his campaign against The Oregonian's 10/28/2000 allegations of deceptiveness, Mike Kelly, a leader in the effort to repeal Measure 11, used the case of Mark Morris as an example of a Measure 11 abuse. This case was also used during signature gathering to put Measure 94 on the ballot. What Mr. Kelly neglected to say is that Mark Morris was removed from Measure 11 entirely and served less than one-half of a Measure 11 sentence.
Toward the end of the campaign, they started to accuse Crime Victims United of making misrepresentations. The best defense is a good offense, even if it is fraudulent. On Town Hall, Measure 94 chief petitioner Joann Bowman, the source of a whopper of a misrepresentation herself, accused Crime Victims United President Steve Doell of making misrepresentations. She wrote a letter to the Oregonian accusing the No on 94 campaign of "overt false statements and misrepresentation of the facts." However, she can not document any misrepresentations that we have made, because we haven't made them. By contrast, every claim of misrepresentation that we make, every last one, is backed up by a newspaper article, a letter to the editor, a tape of a radio or television program, or some other substantive documentation.
On 10/25/2000, Crime Victims United President Steve Doell spoke at the Portland State Classroom Law Project. He asked the students how many believed that we are spending more money on prisons than education. Well over half said they believed it.
The truth is that we spend 57.7% of our state budget on education and 7.1% on corrections. And almost a quarter of the corrections budget goes for non-prison expenditures such as community corrections, parole and probation.
This is but one example of a misconception planted in people's minds where it has taken firm root. People see the criminal justice system through glasses stained by disinformation put out by Measure 94 proponents. Unclear vision will not lead to clear criminal justice policy. It is going to be hard to undo the damage.
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