Register-Guard Runs Misleading Letters
CRIME VICTIMS UNITED
This sequence of letters, which ran in the Eugene Register-Guard, illustrates the profound misconceptions about Measure 11 and how they are propagated.
April 20, 2004: Letter to the Eugene Register-Guard
In regard to the April 7 article "Carjacker receives 22-year term in plea deal" and Measure 11:
I believe when you sentence a young man to 22 years in prison without any chance of reduction in his sentence, you are really giving him nothing at all to work toward. My brother has been sentenced to that for robbery and carjacking. That's 264 months in prison with serial killers and rapists. My brother did commit numerous robberies, and I believe that he should spend time behind bars, but not 22 years.
Under the Measure 11 law, murderers get sentenced to no less than 300 months in prison. For taking someone's life, you may spend only 36 months longer than someone who commits robberies without injuring anyone at all.
This sentence is really taking the life of my brother. Prison is meant to try to teach criminals a lesson so that they will not break the law any more. But how is that supposed to work if they spend a third of their life in prison?
My brother, Carl Warmington, is 21 years old. When he is released from prison, he will be 43. How can someone at that age, who has been in this situation, ever live a normal life?
I am not saying that he should not be there, but without parole? No time off for good behavior? His life as a young man is over! No matter how great of a person he is or how hard he works at staying out of trouble, none of that matters because his 20s and 30s are over with no possibility of getting that back. How can that be right?
April 27, 2004: Letter to the Eugene Register-Guard
It was good to see Danyel Warmington's April 20 letter about Measure 11, because it seems this issue has been out of the news for so long - except for those of us who are still its victims. My brother is Johnny Ramsdal. He was sentenced under the federal mandatory minimum law. He got 30 years for conspiracy to manufacture drugs. There was no robbery. No violence. No guns.
I admit that he was breaking the law and that his crime warranted punishment, but is he so dangerous that he should spend the rest of his life in prison? He was 31 years old with a wife and two young sons when he was sentenced. He is 44 now. His sons talk to him on the phone and write to him as much as they can, but they're 14 and 18 now, and are living their own lives - growing up, playing sports, learning to drive and falling in love, all without a father.
If my brother is released with "good time," he'll be 56 years old before he is free again. If he doesn't get "good time," he'll be 61. The years he has lost with his sons, wife, mother, brother, sister and friends are unmeasurable. These are years and a life he will never get back.
May 18, 2004: Crime Victims United Letter to the Eugene Register-Guard
Two recent letters regarding Measure 11 may leave readers with misconceptions.
On April 20, Danyel Warmington's letter complained that her brother's 22-year sentence - without parole or time off for good behavior - is too harsh for his crimes: a carjacking and numerous robberies. What readers should know is that, except for the 25-year sentence for murder, the longest sentence required by Measure 11 is 10 years.
Assuming that Carl Warmington was convicted of multiple first-degree robberies and first-degree kidnapping, Measure 11 requires a sentence of 7 years and 6 months. The 22-year sentence is the result of an agreement between him and the district attorney. If he felt that this was unjust, he had the option of going to trial where a judge could have sentenced him to the Measure 11 minimum of 7 years and 6 months.
On April 27, Ron McIntyre's letter complained, under the headline "Measure exacts harsh price," that his brother was sentenced to 30 years for conspiracy to manufacture drugs. Although he acknowledges that his brother was sentenced under federal law, McIntyre still claims to be a victim of Measure 11. What readers should know is that Measure 11 is an Oregon law. It covers only violent crimes and serious sex offenses, not drug or property crimes. And it does not require a 30-year sentence under any circumstances.
Crime Victims United
May 25, 2004: Letter to the Eugene Register-Guard
The FBI crime lab is known to have manufactured evidence, and the legendary defense lawyer, Gerry Spence, is quoted as saying he had never defended a case in a federal court where the prosecutor didn't create his own evidence.
At Oregon's state level, justice enjoyed a better process until Measure 11 awarded the judge's gavel to the prosecutor. This is a situation something like having the pitcher in a baseball game call the balls and strikes. Contrary to the unsubstantiated opinion of Howard Rodstein (letters, May 18), Measure 11 still sucks up funds needed for education, the primary tool of crime prevention.
Rodstein, who keeps tabs on all newspaper editorial letters across Oregon - especially in the coverage area of The Register-Guard - states unequivocally, "the longest sentence required by Measure 11 is 10 years." That's misleading. After the district attorney breaks a criminal act down into 11 different charges, the sentence is 110 years if the defendant goes to trial and is found guilty, and that sentence is automatic by the fact that the prosecution was under the auspices of Measure 11. Would you accept a plea bargain? The judge is out at the ballpark here, because he cannot change what the law stipulates.
Measure 11 will cure crime. Sure it will, in the same way that leper colonies cured leprosy.
WAYNE L. MILLER
May 26, 2004: Response To Register-Guard From Howard Rodstein (not published)
Wayne Miller's claim that Measure 11 requires judges to run sentences consecutively is patent nonsense. I don't understand why the Register-Guard would allow its pages to be used to propagate such misinformation.
Oregon law (ORS 137.123, http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/137.html) states "A sentence imposed by the court may be made concurrent or consecutive to any other sentence which has been previously imposed or is simultaneously imposed upon the same defendant." There is nothing in Measure 11 that diminishes this judicial discretion.
As Mr. Miller writes, I "keep tabs on all editorial letters across Oregon." I do this precisely to prevent people like Mr. Miller from misleading the citizens of Oregon.
Crime Victims United
June 7, 2004: Letter To The Editor From Anne Pratt
"Measure 11 distorts justice," Wayne Miller's May 25 letter, in itself is a grievous distortion of facts.
Miller would like you to believe that Oregon judges play a microscopic part in the courtroom and that the power lies entirely in the hands of the prosecutor and Measure 11, thus allowing for no judicial discretion when determining whether sentences are to run concurrently or consecutively. That is pure nonsense!
According to Oregon Revised Statutes 137.123: "A sentence imposed by the court may be made concurrent or consecutive to any other sentence which has been previously or is simultaneously imposed upon the defendant." In essence, if a defendant is convicted of 11 10-year Measure 11 crimes, the judge has the power to decide whether he or she serves anywhere from 10 years up to 110 years.
In addition, Oregon judges also have the power to decide whether to accept common plea bargains, an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor. Although it rarely happens, the judge can then depart and levy his own sentence.
Miller also insinuates that just because the egocentric defense attorney Gerry Spence claims that prosecutors in every federal case create evidence, it must be a fact and true of all prosecutors in all levels of government. Absolutely absurd!
Measure 11 evolved because innocent victims of crime were watching violent criminals walk away with a slap on the wrist. We now have a fair and balanced justice system that protects the law-abiding citizens of Oregon.
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