Earned time law will continue to put Oregon families at risk

From the Senate Republican Office

The revolving door in Oregon’s prison system remains intact after Senate Bill 1007 passed the Senate floor Friday. While the bill puts a temporary freeze on the controversial 30% earned time law adopted last session, the law will be re-instated in 2011, after the November elections have passed.

“This revolving door in Oregon’s prisons is a serious threat to the safety and security of our families,” said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). “The only reasonable thing to do is end this disastrous ‘catch and release’ policy, but the majority party is merely declaring a hiatus until after they answer to voters in the fall.”

In the 2009 legislative session, Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), Senator Chip Shields (D-Portland) and Democrat officers in the House and Senate crafted an expansion of Oregon’s earned time off policy for inmates. The law allowed violent offenders guilty of felonies like home invasion, car theft, and encouraging child sexual abuse to receive up to a 30% reduction in their sentence. The previous limit was a 20% earned time credit. The federal government grants a maximum of 15% earned time for good behavior.

“There is no question that some of those released will reoffend, victimizing the innocent,” said Ferrioli.

Senate Bill 1007 suspends the 30% earned time law until July 1, 2011 when it will be reinstated barring any further action from the legislature. The bill was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without any public hearings and with only minutes for members to review key amendments.

“The public wants this excessive earned time provision gone for good, but Democrats are playing a shell game with Oregon voters,” said Senator Brian Boquist (R-Dallas). “Victims and families across Oregon have lost peace of mind because of this law, and it needs to go away.”

In its current form, Senate Bill 1007 is opposed by Crime Victims United and the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance. The bill also fails to conform to recommendations made by Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oregon District Attorney’s Association.