With Democrats now in charge of the Oregon legislature, lawmakers may try to soften a 1994 get-tough-on-crime law to allow the early release of juvenile offenders charged with murder, kidnapping, and other serious crimes, reports the Associated Press. The proposal is drawing flak from crime victim advocates and district attorneys. Some legislators and advocacy groups believe the public is ready for a second look at whether the law is cost-effective and the best way to rehabilitate young offenders.
“Measure 11” requires judges to sentence people convicted of serious crimes, including young offenders, to fixed prison terms with no possibility of parole or probation. A bill pending in the House would give youths sentenced under the law a chance to go before a judge for a “second look” after they have served half of their sentences. Judges could grant youths release to serve the remainder of their sentences under post-prison supervision if it can be proved that they have made significant progress while incarcerated. “I think the public, if you asked them, would be OK with giving juveniles a ‘second look,'” said Rep. Chip Shields. “Most people realize that 15- to 17-year-olds should be dealt with differently than 25-year-old hardened criminals.”