An Oregon Juvenile Justice Saga Takes a Deadly Turn

“I’ve had time to prioritize my life and get a handle on my anger,” Donald Beckwith told John Kitzhaber.

Industrial shipyards on North Portland. (Brian Burk)

Donald A. Beckwith, once featured in a WW cover story on juvenile justice ("Spare the Jail, Spoil the Child?" May 7, 2014), was charged Sept. 15 with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of LaSalle Jamal Shakier in North Portland on Sept. 9.

Beckwith, 31, says he will plead self-defense.

Beckwith, who was 24 and serving a sentence for a juvenile conviction when WW published its story, had petitioned then-Gov. John Kitzhaber for clemency after a series of juvenile convictions, including one for a drug house break-in in which he was shot.

"I've had time to prioritize my life and get a handle on my anger," Beckwith told Kitzhaber in a letter at the time.

Kitzhaber did not grant clemency and Beckwith served his time, leaving Oregon State Penitentiary on Aug. 12, 2016. "His criminal history," WW wrote six years ago, "illustrates an essential conundrum of juvenile justice: When is it appropriate to put a kid behind bars?"

Read WW's full story on Beckwith here.

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