The Oregon Legislature is looking for ways to keep jail populations flat and curb projected growth in the number of State inmates but observers say getting enough votes to pass reforms in sentencing for measure 11 and measure 57 crimes faces an uphill battle due to it's political unpopularity. That lack of public support was further reinforced Wednesday with the release of a new opinion survey by Crime Victims United.
The poll released today by Crime Victims United of Oregon shows that legislative proposals aimed at reducing state spending on prisons by reducing sentences established by the passage of Measure 11 (1994) and Measure 57 (2008) are met with widespread opposition from Oregon voters.
Fully 72% of Oregon voters oppose reducing sentences for the Measure 11 crimes of Assault II, Robbery II and Sex Abuse I, by half. Only 23% are in favor of these sentence reductions and 5% have no opinion. Voters in every region of the state and across party lines oppose weakening Measure 11 sentencing laws. There is majority opposition among Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated/other voters and among all demographic voter subgroups.
In addition, 65% of Oregon voters are opposed to reductions in sentences for repeat property criminals provided by Measure 57 in 2008. The proposal would reduce 24-month sentences for crimes such as aggravated theft, burglary, and identity theft, to as little as 13.3 months, and would reduce an 18-month sentence to as little as 9.1 months. Again, opposition is shared by majorities in every region of the state, and among Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated/other voters, alike.
"Oregonians have made public safety a top priority and they want it to remain a top priority," said Steve Doell, President of Crime Victims United of Oregon.
"Legislators should turn their attention to other ways to reduce spending on prisons such as stricter, rigorously-evaluated community corrections programs that address the over 2000 probationers and parolees each year who are revoked to prison because they have committed new crimes or violated conditions of supervision. They accounted for 46% of prison admissions in 2011. The legislature also needs to address the cost per day for prisoners which is one of the highest in the country," he said.
"Reducing sentences will undermine accountability and create new crime victims," Doell stated.