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District Attorney Mike Schmidt Testifies Against Minimum Sentences

“We’ve learned that much of what we believed was true nearly three decades ago was not only untrue but actively harmful.”

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt testified March 23 in support of Senate Bill 401, which would do away with mandatory minimum sentences for felonies other than murder and allow courts to impose lesser sentences.

"Senate Bill 401 is a tremendously important bill, arguably the most important public safety bill in recent memory," Schmidt said.

In 1994, Oregon voters passed Measure 11, which set mandatory sentences for serious felonies, barring reduced prison time for such factors as good behavior. Critics have said Measure 11, which voters passed in a wave of "tough-on-crime" measures in the 1990s, is unnecessarily harsh for its "one size fits all" application.

Related: Oregonians sent a frightened 17-year-old boy to prison. My family helped.

"In the 27 years that have followed the passage of Ballot Measure 11, we have learned much about what works in criminal justice," Schmidt said. "We've learned that much of what we believed was true nearly three decades ago was not only untrue but actively harmful, creating deep systems of inequity that we are still wrestling with today."

The bill is sponsored by Sens. Floyd Prozanksi (D-Eugene) and James Manning (D-Eugene). It is one of at least three bills introduced during the 2021 legislative session that seek to dismantle Measure 11.