Correcting The Oregonian on crime

THE OREGONIAN: Incomplete Information About Corrections
By Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance

On September 28, 2010, The Oregonian newspaper ran an article on prison spending in Oregon:
. Unfortunately, there were major gaps in this news story. Here is information which we provided to The Oregonian, but it did not show up in the article.

1. The cost of corrections in Oregon is often cited as proof that Oregon has gone overboard on incarceration. However, costs have risen far faster than incarceration. Oregon still ranks just 30thin incarceration rate. We have not gone overboard with incarceration. There is a disconnect between cost (7thhighest per prisoner) and the incarceration rate (30thout of 50).

2. Any discussion of the cost of any program, to present a complete picture, must also discuss the benefits. Violent crime in Oregon has decreased 50% since 1995. We do not claim that Measure 11 is solely responsible for this decrease, but we do believe that it made a substantial contribution.

3. According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, Oregon prevents 100,000 crimes every year because of increased incarceration since 1995.

4. Here are some additional facts:
– In 2007, 77% of felony criminals received non-prison sentences.

– 10% of Oregon prisoners were convicted of drug crimes, manufacturing and dealing. Persons convicted only of using drugs are not sent to prison.

– 96% of people convicted of felony drug crimes in Oregon receive probation, not prison sentences.

– 70% of Oregon prison inmates were convicted of “person” crimes (violent crimes, sex offenses, etc.).

– Oregon spends $84 per prisoner per day. Idaho spends $58. Florida spends $52.

– According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, there is reason to believe that Oregon saves $4 for every $1 spent incarcerating violent criminals (see OCJC 2007 Report to the Legislature, page 11, Table 3 and the following paragraphs on page 12).

5. Not a single Chief of Police, Sheriff, District Attorney, or crime victim was quoted in the article.

Howard Rodstein
Crime Victims United