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March 20th, 2013 WW Editorial Staff | Letters to the Editor
 

Inbox: Crime and Punishment

     
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I was disappointed to read WW’s coverage of the Measure 11 controversy [“The Hard Truth About Oregon’s Prison’s,” March 13, 2013]—not because the research was unsound or the position catered to public opinion, but because a vital point was omitted regarding mandatory minimum sentencing: the role that this sort of legislation plays in plea bargaining.

The systemic issue regarding this system of punishment is that it gives a defendant good reason to accept a plea bargain for a lesser offense—even if they are not guilty—in order to avoid the mandatory minimum sentence for a Measure 11 conviction.

This issue calls into question the claim that Oregon’s incarceration rate for violent criminals is particularly successful—how many of those individuals, especially youths, have pleaded guilty to a crime they did not commit in order to avoid extended jail time? This should also make us question statistics regarding the use of mandatory sentencing, since it can be (and is) used as a tool of coercion without actually being applied and tracked.

In order to more completely address the question of mandatory minimum sentencing, research into how often this technique is used by prosecutors is vital. To publish an article addressing both sides of the Measure 11 debate without addressing this inherent issue is irresponsible.

Taylor Sharpe
Southeast Portland


Thank you for nailing Gov. John “Don’t Lock ’Em Up, Let ’Em Out” Kitzhaber. Facts have a funny way of killing bad ideas. Measure 11 has been working masterfully. Oregon is one of the safest places to live and raise families...and now our governor wants sex offenders and violent convicted criminals back on the street? Yikes!

Let’s not forget what Oregon was like before Measure 11. The state was putting repeat violent offenders back on the street after serving minimal time in prison. Because of our state government’s lack of willpower to fix our then-broken correctional system, the people of Oregon, through the initiative process, voted to enact Measure 11. And Oregon became a better place to live—unless you were a violent criminal.

Don’t let professional politicians twist the facts. Oregon’s correctional system is one of the best in the country, and we can thank Measure 11, our district attorneys, John Foote and Steve Doell for all their great efforts.

Bob Tiernan
Chief sponsor, Measure 11, 1994


FACING FLUORIDE FEARS

There is widespread support for fluoridation in Portland [“Cavities in Their Campaign,” WW, March 13, 2013]. We know this from a lot of sources, polling and face-to-face contact. This includes minorities as well.

It is a pity that Clean Water Portland has done such a disservice to Portland’s citizens by not only trying to prevent a necessary public-health measure but striking fear and anxiety into their hearts. This is called fear mongering. It is brutal, sad and Portlanders do not deserve it. 

— “Billy Rubin-Velazquez”


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