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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.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5061240

Reported Deaths: 74159
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152548627128
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581504
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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