Crime Reforms – In Alliance with the Voters
By Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance
Here are provisions currently in the Oregon Constitution as a result of our initiatives and referrals the last 15 years; it does not include laws we passed in the legislature.
1. Principles of criminal law are now based on “protection of society, personal responsibility, accountability for one’s actions, and reformation.” Article 1, Section 15. Before, the constitution talked about rehabilitation and cautioned against “vindictive justice.”
2. We wrote Article 1, Section 41 (Measure 17), which comprehensibly requires “that inmates who are confined in corrections institutions should work as hard as taxpayers who provide for their upkeep…” This has changed the culture of the state corrections system.
3. We wrote Article 1, Section 42, which gives crime victims
– the right to be present at trial and at all critical case proceedings
– the right to obtain information about the criminal history of the defendant and to be advised, ahead of time, if the defendant is to be released from custody
– the right to refuse an interview by the criminal defense lawyer and to refuse to be deposed by him before trial
– the right to receive prompt restitution
– the right to have a copy of transcripts of court proceedings when they are prepared
– the right to be consulted regarding plea negotiations in any violent felony crime case.
4. More recently, we beefed up the rights of victims to give them better authority to go to court to enforce and protect their rights, again by vote of the people. Article 1, Section 42(3)
5. We wrote Article 1, Section 43, which gives victims the right to be “reasonably protected from the criminal defendant or the convicted criminal throughout the criminal justice process.” We added that decisions regarding pretrial release shall be “based upon the principle of reasonable protection of the victim and the public” in addition to the traditional idea of ensuring that the criminal defendant will appear at trial. We added a prohibition of bail for cases of murder or treason and provided that violent felonies “shall not be bailable” when there is “danger of physical injury or sexual victimization to the victim or members of the public by the criminal defendant while on release.”
. We wrote Article 1, Section 44, which requires that the term of imprisonment imposed by the court must be fully served as defined in the sentence and cannot be modified “except as authorized by the sentencing court.” This is why all the recent cases in Oregon where the legislature tried to retroactively reduce sentences had to actually go back to the sentencing courts (with the rights of victims to appear and be heard) – which created such an outcry from victims and law enforcement that the legislature repealed and/or restricted the retroactive and future sentence reductions.
7. We wrote Article 1, Section 45, which prohibits convicted criminals from sitting on juries in criminal cases.
8. We wrote Article IV, Section 33, which prohibits the legislature from reducing any criminal sentence set by a vote of the people unless there is a two-thirds vote in favor in both the House and Senate. (Measure 10 – which protects Measure 11).
All of the above are now in the Oregon Constitution, thanks to our efforts in the last 15 years. Then, there is Measure 11 (which is statutory).
Kevin L. Mannix