Joe Smith plans to hold his nose and vote for Oregon ballot Measure 57, which increases prison sentences for career burglars, identity thieves and drug dealers and offers probation and drug treatment to first-time offenders. Smith, a member of the civics-minded City Club of Portland, doesn’t buy the argument that Oregon needs to build more prisons for drug dealers and property criminals when reported property crime is at a 40-year low in Oregon, reports the Oregonian. But he says voting for 57 is the best way to defeat the far harsher Measure 61, which would impose mandatory minimum prison sentences for first time non-violent offenders and cost the state twice as much money.
So why not vote “no” on both? Because 57 and 61 are uniquely intertwined: if both pass, the one with more votes wins. Measure 57 is attracting support from a lot of groups that usually don’t endorse prison-building but oppose the more costly Measure 61. But 57 also has plenty of enthusiastic supporters, including police associations and most of the state’s elected district attorneys. They argue that Measure 57 strikes a balance between punishment and prevention at a reasonable cost.