Governor Kate Brown considers early release of some juveniles serving Measure 11 sentences
Governor Kate Brown will consider commuting the sentences of minors serving time under Oregon’s mandatory minimum sentence laws.
In a letter to state director of corrections Colette Peters, Brown asked for the names of those convicted as minors before lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1008, which amended prosecutions against young offenders. The bill, approved in 2019, was not retroactive, meaning it did not apply to minors already serving a sentence.
The legislation was designed to emphasize rehabilitation and keep juveniles charged with the most serious violent crimes out of adult courts. Prosecutors must now request a hearing for a judge to determine whether the teens facing the Measure 11 charges should be transferred to adult court.
The charges under Measure 11 are accompanied by a high bond and long prison terms. Crimes covered by the 1994 law include sexual offenses, murder, theft and assault.
Brown has clarified her criteria for two groups of juvenile offenders: those she will consider for commutation and others who are eligible for parole. She told Peters that she wanted the name lists by Friday.
A spokesperson for the Corrections Department said on Tuesday that 375 people currently held in juvenile and adult prison systems have been sentenced as minors. The agency did not have a breakdown for each of the two groups described in Brown’s letter. Minors convicted under Measure 11 serve their sentences at the Oregon Youth Authority and are transferred to the Oregon Department of Corrections at the age of 25.
Brown said she would not consider serving sentences with a release date slated for 2050 or later. This means Thurston High School gunman Kip Kinkel, whose first release date is 2110 – 89 years from now – would not be eligible for commutation or parole as part of the governor’s plan. Kinkel, now 39, was 15 when he killed his parents in their Springfield home on May 20, 1998, then showed up the next day at Thurston High School with three guns hidden in his trench coat. coat. He killed two classmates and injured 24 others.
“The executive’s pardon power to commute the sentences of juveniles and adults in custody has traditionally been used in extraordinary circumstances, including major pardon cases,” Brown wrote in the letter, obtained by The Oregonian. / OregonLive.
Brown went on to say that young people who find themselves in the criminal justice system are “capable of tremendous transformation.”
“In fact, many of these young people go on to further education, fully engage in treatment or other skill-based programs, and become leaders within their institution before or before being transferred to DOC custody. “she wrote. âThese circumstances are extraordinary.
She said she expects the names passed on to her “will be made up of many people who have shown exemplary progress and considerable evidence of rehabilitation, and who – unfairly – have not benefited from the effects. of SB 1008 “.
The governor also pointed out that minors convicted of Measure 11 crimes are disproportionately people of color.
She said she would consider commutation for those convicted before January 1, 2020, who have served 50% of their sentence or will have served that sentence by the end of next year. They must also be under 18 at the time of their offense.
In the case of parole eligibility, Brown said people had to serve a sentence of at least 15 years imposed by January 1, 2020 and be under 18 at the time of their crime.