To the editor:
As an attorney who practiced criminal defense for almost 15 years, I have seen the impact Measure 11 sentences have on youth offenders. Studies show youth who are placed in the adult justice system are over 30% more likely to commit additional crimes upon release than those in the youth justice system. By sentencing youth to Measure 11 sentences they are entering adulthood with the stigma of a mandatory minimum sentence as well as an non-expungeable offense on their record. There are limited choices, and collateral consequences for convicted felons.
As a defense attorney, I have seen the impact positive prevention and rehabilitation can provide to youth. It does not always occur but it does happen. Youth in the justice system should be held accountable for their actions. I ask that you support SB 1008 for the following reasons:
It places youth accused of any crimes in the juvenile justice system instead of the adult justice system. To move a youth to the adult justice system, district attorneys would need to request a special hearing with a judge who would decide where youth are placed.
It establishes a process where all youth who are convicted in adult court have access to a “Second Look” hearing halfway through their sentence. At that hearing, a judge determines whether the youth has taken responsibility for their crime and been rehabilitated, which would allow the remainder of their sentence to be served under community-based supervision, rather than being incarcerated.
It requires an additional review before a youth with a long sentence would be transferred to an adult prison. Currently, Oregon youth who are given long sentences can stay in a youth prison until age 25 and are then transferred to an adult prison. This proposal would allow a judge to determine if the 25-year-old has been sufficiently rehabilitated to transfer them to community-based supervision, rather than adult prison.
It eliminates life without parole sentences for youth in Oregon by establishing a process to ensure that anyone convicted of a crime when they are under 18 years old receives a chance for parole after 15 years of incarceration.