State Fact Sheet

Public Safety in Oregon

Oregon

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Public Safety Performance Project > State Work > Oregon

Bipartisan majorities of both chambers of the Oregon State Legislature have passed a broad criminal justice bill that will improve public safety and save taxpayers $326 million over the next decade. HB 3194 is projected to avert all of the state’s anticipated prison growth over the next five years while strengthening local public safety strategies. The House of Representatives passed the measure by a vote of 40-20; the Senate approved it 19-11.

Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber signs HB 3194 into law on July 25, 2013. The measure will improve public safety and save taxpayers $326 million over the next decade.

Without action by the state legislature, Oregon’s prison population was projected to grow by 2,000 inmates in the next 10 years. This growth, fueled mostly by nonviolent offenders, would have cost taxpayers an additional $600 million. As prisons consumed a growing share of Oregon’s public safety budget, many local programs with a proven track record of preventing crime were suffering from budget shortages.

In order to get Oregon a better return on its public safety dollars, state officials launched a bipartisan, inter-branch working group to analyze the state’s sentencing and corrections trends and to generate policy recommendations for the legislature. The Oregon Commission on Public Safety used state-level data, the growing body of national research about what works in corrections, and engagement with criminal justice stakeholders to develop the policy options that served as a foundation for HB 3194.

Through evidence-based sentencing alternatives and other effective crime prevention strategies, the reform package will avert prison growth for five years and is expected to eliminate the need for approximately 870 of the projected 2,000 bed increase over ten years. Reforms in HB 3194 include:

  • Modifying Measure 57 by repealing mandatory minimums for drug offenses and placing select property offenses in new sentencing ranges.
  • Expanding presumptive probation for marijuana and driving-while-suspended offenses.
  • Expanding from 30 days to 90 days the amount of transitional leave inmates have at the end of their sentences so they can participate in re-entry supervision programs.
  • Creating a justice reinvestment grant program to support county efforts to reduce recidivism and expand prison alternatives.
  • Allowing probationers to earn time off their sentences by complying with the terms of their supervision.

The legislation received support from a broad coalition of stakeholders, including business leaders and the state associations of community corrections directors, police chiefs, district attorneys, and sheriffs.

There is also widespread public support for the sentencing and corrections reforms included in HB 3194, according to a poll conducted by the bipartisan team of Public Opinion Strategies and the Mellman Group. Regardless of political party, Oregonians overwhelmingly want their tax dollars spent more effectively, with more than eight out of 10 Oregon voters agreeing that the state’s prisons should be put to the cost-benefit test to make sure taxpayers are getting the best results for their dollars. By clear margins regardless of political party affiliation, sex, or history as a victim of crime, voters favor slowing prison growth and redirecting the savings to local public safety strategies.

HB 3194 places Oregon in the company of more than a dozen states, including Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas that are implementing  “justice reinvestment” policies designed to protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs. These reforms have contributed to the first drop in the national prison population in nearly 40 years, while crime rates continue to decline.

At the request of state leaders, Pew’s public safety performance project provided technical assistance to the Oregon Commission on Public Safety and to state officials throughout the reform process.

Oregon Sentencing and Corrections Resources

 



Fact Sheet | June 6, 2012
Time Served in Oregon  arrow  

Analysis | April 3, 2012
Public Attitudes on Crime and Punishment in Oregon  arrow  

Fact Sheet  | March 2, 2009
1 in 31: The Long Rearch of American Corrections  arrow

 


Oregon News

Media Coverage | April 25, 2013
Keene: Public safety reforms needed
"If you are an Oregon conservative, I hope you’re asking the same question the state’s bipartisan Commission on Public Safety asked: 'Are taxpayers getting the most from the money we spend on public safety?'". arrow

Media Coverage | December 19, 2012
Editorial: Rethinking Public Safety 
Governor John Kitzhaber reappointed his Oregon Commission on Public Safety, which last year recommended reforming the state’s sentencing laws and increasing spending to bolster prevention and drive down recidivism.  arrow  

Media Coverage | December 5, 2012
Science, Not Emotion 
Gov. John Kitzhaber's recommended budget for the state has been received as governors' budgets traditionally are: Lawmakers from both parties have made conciliatory noises but committed to nothing, and interest groups directly affected by the proposals have expressed alarm. arrow

Media Coverage | October 28, 2012
Oregon Prison Puzzle: Cut Costs But Keep Public Safe
For months, 12 Oregonians have been wrestling with the mathematics of justice in Oregon -- who's going to prison, who's falling off probation, what percentage of new inmates are "low risk" or "nonviolent."  arrow

Media Coverage | September 23, 2012
Smarter Justice
On Monday, the state Commission on Public Safety will review new data on Oregon's prison system and begin working on legislation to present to lawmakers in 2013. arrow

Media Coverage | May 16, 2012
Editorial: Reforming Public Safety
Governor John Kitzhaber reappointed his Oregon Commission on Public Safety, which last year recommended reforming the state’s sentencing laws and increasing spending to bolster prevention and drive down recidivism. arrow

Media Coverage | May 14, 2012
Kitzhaber Moves Ahead With Look at Oregon's Public Safety System
 Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber hopes a newly revived public safety commission will lead to big changes in the state's criminal justice system.   arrow  

Media Coverage | May 14, 2012
Oregon Leaders Push Ahead on Prison, Crime Reforms
Oregon's top leaders joined forces Monday on reforms to shave prison costs and cut crime.  arrow  

Date:
May 28, 2013
Project:
Public Safety Performance Project
Issues:
Public Safety
State:
Oregon
 
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