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Governor Brown gets juvenile justice reform package

Oregon approved expansive changes to the way it sentences juvenile offenders in what's a reversal of tough-on-crime policy passed by voters a quarter of a century ago.

Posted: May 24, 2019 4:21 PM
Updated: May 24, 2019 4:23 PM

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon narrowly approved expansive changes to the way it sentences juvenile offenders in what's a reversal of tough-on-crime policy passed by voters a quarter of a century ago.

House lawmakers just barely pushed the measure late Thursday night through the chamber and onto the governor's desk, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports . Among other things, it ensures young offenders aren't sentenced to life without parole and establishes pathways for early release and rehabilitation.

"For those in our system who can be redeemed, we should be focusing on the hope of the future, not the mistakes of the past," said Rep. Marty Wilde, a Democrat from Eugene and former deputy district attorney. "There is no justice in treating children as small adults and locking them away without a chance to rehabilitate."

The proposal partially eases rules voters approved in 1994's Ballot Measure 11, which set mandatory minimum sentences for serious crimes. The move was part of a local and national efforts to be "tough on crime," policy that critics later denounced for disproportionately targeting minorities.

"Our juvenile system creates a class of people who reoffend at a higher rate," said Rep. Jennifer Williamson, a Democrat from Portland who had been a central backer of the sentencing changes. "It targets our communities of color. My question is, 'What is our responsibility knowing that?'"

Those 15 and older convicted of serious crimes like murder, rape and kidnapping will no longer be automatically be tried as adults under the change. Judges will instead try youths as they see fit, something some opponents say gave judges broad decision-making authority.

The bill also makes young offenders eligible for a parole hearing after serving half their sentence and creates a new pathway for certain defendants to secure early release.

Some argued the changes should be sent back to the voters, since they were the ones to enact those sentencing minimums in the first place.

"There is no doubt that Oregon needs to reform the juvenile justice system," said Rep. Ron Noble, a Republican from McMinnville, "but this bill needs to go to the voters."

Gov. Kate Brown has signaled she will sign the measure into law.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 9930

Reported Deaths: 213
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah241769
Marion161047
Washington153420
Clackamas82125
Umatilla7166
Union3551
Lincoln3463
Deschutes2110
Lane2083
Malheur1911
Polk15912
Linn1579
Jackson1470
Jefferson1320
Yamhill1328
Klamath1301
Benton935
Morrow931
Hood River880
Wasco881
Josephine521
Clatsop510
Douglas460
Coos420
Columbia360
Lake210
Tillamook140
Crook120
Wallowa100
Curry80
Baker50
Sherman20
Gilliam10
Grant10
Harney10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 252895

Reported Deaths: 6334
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1078263457
Riverside19450479
Orange16191363
San Diego15696387
San Bernardino13676269
Imperial7039114
Alameda6556140
Fresno585177
Kern513081
Santa Clara5077160
Tulare4627136
San Joaquin447455
Sacramento400469
San Francisco377650
Contra Costa356481
San Mateo3536108
Santa Barbara326129
Ventura324047
Marin271921
Kings260032
Stanislaus253144
Monterey191515
Solano147625
Sonoma135911
Merced127211
Placer82811
San Luis Obispo7012
Yolo61325
Madera5785
Santa Cruz4553
Napa3764
San Benito2652
Sutter2433
Lassen2420
El Dorado2260
Butte2063
Shasta1484
Humboldt1444
Nevada1291
Glenn1220
Yuba1061
Tehama881
Lake870
Mendocino850
Colusa700
Del Norte581
Calaveras530
Mono451
Tuolumne430
Inyo331
Amador310
Siskiyou310
Mariposa271
Plumas110
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
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