Oregon: repeal of mandatory
sentences defeated

By Brigette Sarabi, Western Prison Project

The Measure 94 campaign to repeal Measure 11 (mandatory minimum sentences) was defeated in Oregon on November 7th. With 85% of the vote counted, it looks like we lost 75% to 25%. This was, for all of us, a very hard campaign. It's obvious that we have much more work to do to educate voters about our issues, since people customarily vote with their feelings and conservatively whenever the topic of crime is introduced.

On the other hand, we come out of this election with key players - including the Governor and most major newspapers - on record as saying that Measure 11 needs to be reformed, and we will work towards that goal in the next legislative session. Additionally, we did have 300,000 people vote our way. Obviously, prisoners' families were not the only ones supporting this repeal effort, and this gives us a base from which to build.

Personally, I extend my thanks and admiration to Rep. JoAnn Bowman and the leaders and volunteers of Parents Against Cruel & Unusual Punishment who did incredible work on behalf of this campaign, often while under personal attack.

On the positive side, the Asset Forfeiture initiative (Measure 3) passed overwhelmingly. This forbids seizing of property without a conviction and is a victory for criminal justice reform. Also, it looks like both Eileen Qutub and Lynn Snodgrass will be out of office, Republican legislators who have, together, promoted the idea of private prisons in past sessions.

Big congratulations to the California prison activist community for the passage of Proposition 36, no jail time for 1st or 2nd drug offenses! That was a great victory.

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