Legislators and negotiators for Oregon’s district attorneys and Gov. Ted Kulongoski came to agreement yesterday on a crime-fighting proposal they want to put before voters as an alternative to a more costly initiative pushed by Kevin Mannix. Mannix, twice an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor, has submitted 149,326 voter signatures to qualify his initiative for the November ballot. The Mannix proposal would impose mandatory prison sentences for a variety of property crimes, including drug dealing, identity theft, burglary, forgery and motor vehicle theft. Some of the harshest sentences would apply to first-time offenders convicted of drug dealing, identity theft, and burglary.
State officials say voter approval of the Mannix initiative would swell Oregon’s prison population and cost the state as much as $200 million a year. Oregon district attorneys and several lawmakers have been urging a less stringent approach that would impose longer prison sentences for repeat offenders but not first-time offenders, reduce the early release of prison inmates, and commit more money to drug treatment programs for inmates.