Oregon Bill proposes big shift in criminal justice

A bill in the Oregon Legislature proposes major reforms to the state's criminal justice system.

Posted: Feb 21, 2021 9:27 PM
Updated: Feb 21, 2021 9:38 PM

SALEM, Ore. -- A bill in the Oregon Legislature proposes major reforms to the state's criminal justice system.

House Bill 2002 is a sweeping measure that would scale back the system's reach, from limiting what offenses send a person to jail, to reforming mandatory minimum sentences, to reducing the number of people on parole.

Shannon Wight, deputy director of the Partnership for Safety and Justice, one of the groups that requested the bill, said the changes are needed.

"Those are the part of the bill that actually kind of shrink the system, limit its impact because we know it's grown too big," Wight contended. "It's become like the mental health default, the addiction default."

Wight pointed out the bill came together in the wake of George Floyd's death.

She emphasized it would save money to be reinvested in things like culturally-specific services.

Other groups involved in the effort include the Latino Network, Coalition of Communities of Color, and Red Lodge Transition Services.

House Bill 2002 has a public hearing scheduled in the House Judiciary Committee Thursday.

Morgan Godvin, a commissioner on the Oregon Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, spent time in Oregon jails and a federal prison for her opioid use disorder.

She said her personal experience opened her eyes because she saw many women churned through the system, being released and re-arrested again and again.

"It was making them less safe," Godvin argued. "Jail was destabilizing their lives. They were losing their housing, they were losing their job, and then being released back into the exact same circumstances from which they came."

Godvin helped craft the bill's parole piece. She stressed the current program negatively incentivizes people, relying on sending them back to jail. The bill would allow for tele-reporting to supervisors and limit the complexities of parole.

Wight added reforming mandatory minimum sentences is important because it unties the hands of judges. She noted, nonetheless, people who commit crimes need to be held accountable.

"Part of what we're saying with these reforms is, let's go back to a system that allows judges to look at the individual circumstances of those crimes and make decisions that are based on what accountability makes sense for that person and for that victim," Wight concluded.

The bill would also increase funding for community-based victim services.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 154878

Reported Deaths: 2206
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31824528
Washington21099212
Marion18373285
Clackamas13328175
Lane10200126
Jackson8315111
Umatilla763982
Deschutes593459
Yamhill376764
Linn357756
Malheur334458
Polk303942
Klamath278455
Douglas244754
Josephine232849
Benton232516
Jefferson195128
Coos144019
Union128119
Columbia124821
Wasco122026
Lincoln112820
Hood River106429
Morrow104614
Clatsop7756
Crook77518
Baker6507
Curry4246
Tillamook4142
Lake3746
Harney2736
Grant2221
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00
Eugene
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 40°
Corvallis
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 43°
Roseburg
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 40°
North Bend
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 36°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events