Repeat Offenders          


Over the years, the criminal justice pendulum swings back and forth between more and less lenient treatment of violent criminals. Sometimes the system changes not smoothly like a pendulum, but in a seismic burst releasing pressure generated by years of friction. One such change was the 1994 passage of Measure 11 by the voters of Oregon which set a mandatory minimum sentence for murder of 25 years, replacing a system in which it was common for a murderer to serve just 8 years.

A significant factor in the attitude change that resulted in Measure 11 was the toll taken by repeat offenders. Consider this data, gleaned from Oregon news outlets over the years. It illustrates the high cost of leniency when it comes to violent crime. Measure 11 can not eradicate such appalling cases, but it can and has made them fewer and farther between.

The data shows:

Over two hundred cases in which innocent people were assaulted, raped or murdered by previously-convicted criminals, most of them violent and most on bail, probation or parole.

Nearly 100 innocent people dead.

This data is intended as a reminder of what is at stake when we make decisions about the treatment of violent criminals.

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