Last week, WW told the story of Larry Muzzy, one of the first teenagers sent to prison under Oregon's Measure 11. In 1997, when he was 17, Muzzy was sentenced to 90 months in prison for first-degree robbery. A year earlier, Muzzy had turned himself in to Gresham police for standing alongside a friend who pulled a knife on a man and took his wallet. Measure 11, passed in 1994, removed the discretion of judges when sentencing defendants 15 and up convicted of crimes like robbery. Lawmakers have for years worked to soften it. Muzzy, now a 40-year-old father of two, has struggled to start a career due to the felony he was convicted of as a teenager, and is considering applying for clemency from Gov. Kate Brown. Here's what our readers had to say:
Seems2Me via wweek.com: "Sad to say the only unique thing about this story is how people went to bat for this young man. The rest of it, the police overcharging, the judge apologizing because there's no allowance for judicial discretion, the months of terror, and waste on the taxpayers' dime, the lives destroyed. Measure 11 ruins lives."
David Collins via Facebook: "Measure 11 has affected so many of us in this state, myself included. I am beyond grateful to have been focused enough to bounce back, but the impact that law has had on my life dogged me for years after all my time was served. It's time to change."
Helen Kennedy via Facebook: "I hope someone in a position to offer him a good job reads this."
Ashley Maginnis via Facebook: "The people who vote for these 'tough on crime' laws just don't understand the human impact they have. The saddest part is that so many of these laws don't reduce crime. They only increase consequence and suffering. Who does that help?"
Tommyspoon via wweek.com: "Are there no second chances for ordinary people? Justice is not justice without mercy. Sixty-four percent [the percentage of Oregon voters who voted for Measure 11] of a group of people can still be wrong."
Casey via wweek.com: "Regardless of the specific issue, it's pretty disappointing to read about a legislator angling to circumvent the will of the citizens, especially after an election in which we were hectored over and over about the importance of voting. If you think the law should be overturned, make the case to the people, don't do an end around in the Legislature. If voting really matters and is important, prove it."
Tristan LeFever via Facebook: "The will of the voters in 1994 is not likely aligned with the will of the voters today. I say let's bring it up for a vote again."
Frank Franklin via wweek.com: "Maybe when one person wrongs another person, perhaps we don't need thousands of people who played no role whatsoever in the crime sitting around, frantically shoving their 2 cents of monotonous ramblings and self-proclaimed 'expert advice' on criminal law and punishment. How about we let the accused and the victim do their thing in court, while we mind our own business, and then when it's all over the judge (who actually is qualified to have any kind of say in the matter since none of us really do) will be able to issue a sentence commensurate with the crime in his/her opinion and not be burdened by the tantrums of voters who demand a million-year sentence for jaywalkers because they had their lunch money taken in high school."
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