Radio ad campaign to set record straight on Oregon’s prison laws

By Truth In Sentencing Project, Press Release
LISTEN to the Radio Ad here

Lake Oswego, Or (July 19, 2012) – The Truth in Sentencing Project, a foundation dedicated to educating and informing Oregon’s citizens about the state’s criminal justice, prison systems and sentencing laws is releasing its first ad today. The ad is intended to let Oregonians know who is in prison and why they are there.

• It addresses Oregon’s low incarceration rate, 33rd out of 50 states. Nearly 2/3rds of states have higher incarceration rates. The ad also calls into question Oregon’s high cost per day to incarcerate compared to other states such as Idaho.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Oregon’s sentencing laws and the criminal justice and prison systems and the Truth in Sentencing Project’s goal is to dispel those misconceptions,” said Steve Doell, Executive Director. For instance, many people believe that up to fifty percent of the prison population is incarcerated for possessing drugs.

• In some states that may be true, however in Oregon less than one-half of one percent of Oregon’s 14,000 inmates is serving time for drug possession, and those were convicted for possession of substantial quantities of illegal drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine, according to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission (CJC).

Also according to the CJC:

• Less than 1 in 4 of all convicted felons receive prison sentences in Oregon.

• About 7 in 10 of Oregon’s inmates are in prison for violent crimes and serious sex offenses including felony assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, manslaughter, child molestation, rape, attempted murder, and murder.

• Seventeen percent are repeat property criminals, burglary, identity theft, fraud and car theft. Most of the rest are repeat drug criminals, almost all convicted of manufacturing and/or dealing substantial quantities of illegal drugs.

One of the main reasons for the high percentage of violent criminals in Oregon prisons is because the voters passed Measure 11 in 1994. “The voters were tired of the high violent crime rate in Oregon and violent criminals receiving short sentences so they put a high priority on violent crimes,” Doell stated. “And while Oregon’s violent crime rate increased nearly 700% from 1960 until 1985, then basically plateaued through 1995, the violent crime rate has decreased more than 50% since then. We believe one of the most significant reasons for this decrease is Measure 11,” Doell added.