Measure 11 Background

In 1994 the voters of Oregon overwhelmingly passed Measure 11, and reaffirmed it in 2000 with 73% approval. Measure 11 provides reasonable and uniform minimum prison sentences for Oregon’s most violent crimes. It is a law proposed by the people – not prosecutors or politicians – in response to a justice system in need of reform because it failed to protect crime victims and the public.

Prior to 1989, Oregon judges would decide whether a convicted felon should be put on probation or sent to prison, and for those sent to prison, set a maximum sentence (known as an “indeterminate sentence.”). Based on a subsequent decision by the Parole Board, which used an assessment of good behavior, rehabilitative efforts, and criminal case, the average offender would serve a fraction of the sentence handed down by the judge.

The Oregon Legislative Assembly established felony sentencing guidelines in 1989, in an attempt to achieve the following four goals:

  • Proportional punishment, imposing the most severe sentences on the most serious offenders
  • Truth in sentencing, so the judge’s sentence would more closely reflect actual prison time
  • Sentence uniformity, to reduce disparities among judges
  • Maintenance of correctional capacity consistent with sentencing policy, so the criminal justice system would be able to deliver proposed penalties.

Parole release for most offenders was abolished by the establishment of these guidelines. The Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision continues to have release authority over those prison inmates sentenced for crimes committed prior to November 1, 1989, those sentenced by the courts as dangerous offenders, and for murderers and aggravated murderers who are eligible for parole, regardless of the date of their crimes. Other prisoners began serving at least 80% of their sentences.

All of these measures did little to abate the rising rates of violent crime. Criminals were returning to the streets quickly and violence escalated. It was for this reason that grassroots victims rights organizations drafted Measure 11.

The specific mandated sentencing minimums only apply to violent felonies, not property crimes or misdemeanors. The list is:

Source: Oregon District Attorneys Association

Measure 11 Results

Measure 11 makes us safer. In the years prior to the passage of Measure 11, violent crime rates in Oregon were at all-time highs. However, in the 27 years since, violent crime rates in Oregon dropped by over 50%, more than almost anywhere in the United States, according to FBI data. Oregon is now the safest it has been since the early 1970s.

Measure 11 addresses conduct, not color. While racial disparities are present in our justice system and require attention, we maintain that Measure 11 is not the cause. Not only did those disparities exist before Measure 11, but Oregon Criminal Justice Commission data shows that prison population disparities for Black and Hispanic inmates have decreased since Measure 11′s implementation. Moreover, independent studies have made the same observation: Measure 11 itself is not racially biased or disparate. It ensures the sentence for a violent crime is just, regardless of the race or wealth of the offender or victim.

The following chart demonstrates the effectiveness of Measure 11 and nationwide changes which implemented mandatory minimum sentences.

Source: FBI 2019 UCR Oregon Report
Aggregate Crime in Oregon by Type and Year
Oregon Criminal Justice Commission

Since mandatory sentencing was established, violent crime rates have significantly declined year on year. And the population of prisoners who are members of minority groups has declined significantly as well.

Source: Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, Racial and Ethnic Impact Statement Historical Data 2012

Not only that, but the trend for arrests of members of minorities is also declining over time:

Source: Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, Racial and Ethnic Impact Statement Historical Data 2012
Source: Vera Institute of Justice

Incarceration rates are declining particularly for property crimes, drug crimes, and non-violent crimes faster than for violent crime. Criminals convicted of non-violent crimes are being sentenced to alternative programs such as drug treatment, community service, half way houses, house arrest, and others. So only the most hardened criminals are ending up in Oregon prisons.

This chart shows the 2021 prison population held under Measure 11 crimes:

Source: Oregon Department of Corrections
Source: Oregon Department of Corrections

Clearly there is no need for sentencing reform!!!

Current Activity

Measure 11 is under attack. Politicians and special interest groups aim to replace mandatory minimums with lower “presumptive” sentences, which are the sentences judges give in all but the most extreme circumstances.

Oregon’s Legislature is currently considering several bills to reduce sentences for violent crimes, making them unreasonably low.

For example, SB 191, SB 401HB 2002 and HB 2172  each propose cutting the sentence for raping someone at knifepoint from 8.3 years to 6.7 years or lower; for shooting and paralyzing someone from 7.5 years to 6 years or lower; and the sentence for filming an adult raping a child from 5.8 years to 4.7 years or lower.

Even the sentence for attempted murder would drop from 7.5 to 6 years or lower. Nothing about these proposed reductions will bring more justice to victims, make Oregonians safer or sentencing more equitable. Rather, they return Oregon to the ineffective system that compelled voters to pass Measure 11 in the first place.

House Bill 2002

WHAT THE MEASURE DOES: (note: bold items are editorial comment from the poster”)

  • Amends certain mandatory sentences required under ORS 137.700 and converts to presumptive sentences. (“Eliminates Mandatory Sentencing”)
  • Authorizes court to determine eligibility for release and temporary leave from custody, work release, conditional or supervised release, or reductions in sentences un relevant statutes for persons sentenced under ORS 137.700. (“Gives judges full discretion in sentencing, which is why Measure 11 was needed in the first place. Judges were very lenient in their sentencing, allowing for ever increasing crime and victimization.”)
  • Amends authority of a peace officer to arrest without a warrant and limits it to those circumstances when a peace officer has probable cause to believe a person has committed a felony, Class A misdemeanor categorized by the criminal justice commission as a person crime, or an unclassified crime punishable by law equal to or greater than a class C felony. (“Police cannot arrest someone for lower level misdemeanors or low level felonies. Basically all property crime!”)
  • Requires a peace officer to issue a criminal citation in lieu of arresting a person for certain crimes. (“Misdemeanors are now citations”)
    List of crimes specifically becoming citations under HB2002:
    • (a) Unsworn falsification under ORS 162.085;
    • (b) Interfering with a peace officer or parole and probation officer under ORS 162.247 when there is no accompanying charge;
    • (c) Resisting arrest under ORS 162.315 when there is no accompanying charge;
    • (d) Theft in the third degree under ORS 164.043;
    • (e) Theft in the second degree under ORS 164.045;
    • (f) Criminal trespass in the second degree by a guest under ORS 164.243;
    • (g) Criminal trespass in the second degree under ORS 164.245;
    • (h) Criminal trespass at a sports event under ORS 164.278;
    • (i) Offensive littering under ORS 164.805;
    • (j) Unlawful sound recording under ORS 164.865;
    • (k) Forgery in the second degree under ORS 165.007;
    • (L) Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree under ORS 165.017;
    • (m) Misrepresentation of age by a minor under ORS 165.805;
    • (n) Interfering with public transportation under ORS 166.116;
    • (o) Prostitution under ORS 167.007;
    • (p) Unlawful possession of a controlled substance under ORS 475.752 (7)(b);
    • (q) Unlawful possession of methadone under ORS 475.824 (2)(c);
    • (r) Unlawful possession of oxycodone under ORS 475.834 (2)(c);
    • (s) Unlawful possession of heroin under ORS 475.854 (2)(c);
    • (t) Unlawful possession of cocaine under ORS 475.884 (2)(c);
    • (u) Unlawful possession of methamphetamine under ORS 475.894 (2)(c); or
    • (v) An attempt to commit a crime listed in paragraphs (a) to (u) of this subsection.
  • Appropriates to the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, for the biennium beginning July 1, 2021, out of the General Fund, the amount of $2,500,000, for distribution to the Northwest Health Foundation for deposit into the Reimagine Safety Fund. (“Steals money allocated to other worthy programs and gives it to a slush fund. See Policy Proposals & Jurisdiction Responses — Reimagine Oregon or a complete list of this groups ‘demands'”)
  • Limits authority of a police officer to initiate a traffic stop for certain traffic violations. (“Road safety is now eliminated”)
    • SECTION 24. Notwithstanding ORS 810.410, a police officer may not initiate a traffic violation stop for unlawful use or failure to use lights under ORS 811.520 or operation without required lighting equipment under ORS 816.330 if the offense is based on the following circumstances:
      • (1) A headlight that is not in compliance with ORS 816.050 or 816.320, and the vehicle has a headlight that is in compliance;
      • (2) A taillight that is not in compliance with ORS 816.080 or 816.320, and the vehicle has a taillight that is in compliance;
      • (3) A brake light that is not in compliance with ORS 816.100 or 816.320, and the vehicle has a brake light that is in compliance;
      • (4) Taillights that do not emit red light as required by ORS 816.080; or
      • (5) A registration plate light that is not in compliance with ORS 816.090 or 816.320.
  • Prohibits admission of any person into a custody facility who is showing symptoms of a contagious virus or in need of acute medical or psychiatric care. (“Claim you have Covid, pink eye, or the flu, or are crazy, and you will be sent to an imaginary treatment facility which will require funding”)
  • Prohibits parole and probation officers from wearing clothing that resembles that of a peace officer while engaged in official duties. (“Probation officers now will not be identified as law enforcement, discrediting their authority”)
  • Prohibits parole and probation officers from carrying a firearm at certain locations while engaged in official duties. (“Probation officers now put their lives at risk by dealing with known violent offenders with no protection at all”)
  • Requires parole and probation officers to receive continuing education in trauma-informed care, culturally specific services, and de-escalation tactics. (“Parole officers now need to take on even more responsibilities as psychiatric service providers”)
  • Amends reductions to sentences for drug related offenses. (“More street crime, mental illness, etc”)
    • (2) Notwithstanding ORS 144.085 and 144.103, for every 30 days that the person does not willfully abscond from supervision or is not convicted of a new felony or person Class A misdemeanor, the person shall receive a 30-day reduction in the term of supervision.
    • (3) A person who has successfully completed an alternative incarceration program under ORS 421.508 or short-term transitional leave under ORS 421.168 shall have the person’s term of post-prison supervision reduced to one year beginning on the date of the person’s release from custody.
  • Removes payment of supervision fees from conditions that may be imposed as part of a probationary sentence. (“Tax payers responsible for paying even more for criminals”)
  • Limits the circumstances under which a judge may revoke an order of probation to those when a person willfully absconds or commits a felony or Class A person misdemeanor while on probation. (“Parolees are given even more leeway to commit more crime”)
    • A court may [not] order revocation of probation [as a result of the probationer’s failure to pay restitution unless the court determines from the totality of the circumstances that the purposes of the probation are not being served] only for willfully absconding probation or the commission of a felony or a person Class A misdemeanor, as that term is defined in the rules of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, while on probation.
  • Prohibits the imposition of jail confinement as a section for a probation violation if based solely on a probationer’s use of controlled substance. (“No parolee will ever get clean”)
  • Defines culturally responsive service and culturally specific organization. Amends the entities eligible to receive funds from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission as part of the Justice Reinvestment Program to include community-based, culturally responsive service providers, and culturally specific organizations. Requires no less than 20 percent of grant funds from the Justice Reinvestment Program to be awarded to culturally specific organizations and culturally responsive service providers. (“Establishes a new prisoner/NGO complex to leech money from taxpayers”)
  • Directs the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to collect and review data concerning disparate imposition of supervision conditions based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and county. Requires said data to be available to the public in a clear and accessible format. (“Already provided for by the CJC under current law”)
  • Directs the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to report to the committees of the Legislative Assembly related to judiciary specific information regarding the distribution of Justice Reinvestment Program funds in accordance with this measure. (“Already provided for by the CJC under current law”)
  • Declares an emergency effective on passage. (“Limits time for response. Accelerates adoption of the bill”)
  • Emergency Clause: A statement added to the end of a measure which causes the act to become effective before the accustomed date. An emergency clause either sets a specific date or is effective immediately, which means that the measure will take effect on the date of its signature into law. NOTE: emergency clauses may not be attached to bills which would raise revenue.

ACTION REQUIRED:

HB2002 is under review by the Oregon House of Representatives. It is only days away from a vote. If passed it will profoundly disrupt the rule of law in Oregon. We already are seeing shootings up over 300% in Portland since 2019. How much more violence and crime can we take?

Write or call your representatives and tell them to vote no on HB2002 specifically, but also SB 191, SB 401, and HB 2172 . These bills are all very similar, but HB2002 goes way beyond the others.

Find your representative here: House Home (oregonlegislature.gov)
Important Links: