Representative Kim Thatcher: Criminals go free

By Representative Kim Thatcher,

Bad Guys Get Out Early On “Good” Time

Approximately 800 criminals will be getting out of our state prisons on early release this fall due to a new law (House Bill 3508) adopted by a majority of state lawmakers. In the November 2008 election 61% of Oregon voters said they wanted tougher penalties for drug and property offenders by passing Measure 57. Then the legislature came along and suspended the measure in order to save money. One of the things they also did was give non-violent felons more time off their sentences for good behavior. Instead of the standard 20% reduction in their sentence these thugs will now get a 30% reduction.

While this new earned time provision doesn’t apply to rapists and murderers, the group that is eligible includes meth dealers, car thieves, burglars, and chronic DUII offenders. This is not a temporary situation because this new law is retroactive and over the next four years more than 4,000 offenders will be getting out early. This new 30% “good time” program has caused a huge backlog in our court system and lots of confusion for inmates and their families. Another new change from this law only punishes probation violators with a 60-day sentence instead of the current 6-month sentence. So much for truth in sentencing, a concept I have worked very hard for in the legislature. If you want to read more about it go to the Department of Corrections website or click here.