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All Press Releases for February 12, 2014 »
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Reforms to reduce OR prison population offer hope for some offenders

Like many states, Oregon takes criminal activity and the associated punishments very seriously. Between mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes and strict parole terms for others, the number of people the state incarcerates has grown over two decades to a substantial figure.
 
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    February 12, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Like many states, Oregon takes criminal activity and the associated punishments very seriously. Between mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes and strict parole terms for others, the number of people the state incarcerates has grown over two decades to a substantial figure. Fortunately for people convicted of certain crimes in Washington County, Oregon, new reforms to curb the growing prison population may offer hope of early release or even probation instead of time served.

Oregon's growing prison population

Oregon has a below-average rate of incarceration, and the majority of crimes are property crimes rather than violent crimes, according to the National Institute of Corrections. Still, the number of people currently serving time or on release from Oregon prisons is not trivial. The same source reports that there were over 13,900 inmates at the start of 2012, while in 2011, there were more than 13,000 people on parole and more than 17,000 on felony probation.

According to Oregon Live, which is affiliated with the Oregonian, in early 2013 officials predicted that the state prison population would consistently rise over the next decade. The associated cost to taxpayers was estimated at as much as $600 million. To avoid this, lawmakers created a bill to change certain sentencing guidelines and probation terms. Now, state officials expect the prison population to decrease by 500 inmates or more over the next two years after reaching a peak of 14,642 in Nov. 2013.

Changes that are now in effect

The new reforms will benefit certain non-violent offenders, according to Oregon Live. Although changes were proposed to mandatory sentencing for Measure 11 crimes, which are crimes that have clear victims, the sentencing requirements for these crimes were ultimately left intact. Changes now effective under the law include:
- More inmates will be eligible to leave prison and enter transitional programs during the last three months of their sentence, rather than the last month.
- Certain drug crimes, such as marijuana possession, will result in probation or local jail time rather than mandatory prison time.
- The sentences assigned for certain crimes covered under Measure 57, including identity theft, will be reduced.
- In a decade, the inmate population should be about 1,000 people less.

The new reforms will obviously not affect everyone who is charged with a crime in Oregon this coming year, but for people accused of property crimes and other victimless crimes, the changes may make a significant difference. Of course, it is important for people who have been accused of any type of crime in Oregon to still take the charges seriously and appreciate the potential for severe punishments or lasting consequences.

If you are facing criminal charges in Oregon, whether for a crime sentenced under Measure 11 or for a victimless crime that may be affected by the reforms, make sure to speak with an experienced attorney about your rights and options.

Article provided by Helzer Cromar & Schneider, LLP
Visit us at www.helzercromar.com



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