Oregon Law Shortening Inmate Terms Stirs Controversy


Oregon lawmakers this year found a way to save about $3 million annually by shortening the sentences of thousands of well-behaved prisoners. Yesterday, a Portland women pleaded with a judge not to lop off 30 percent of the sentence of a driver who struck her daughter, 23, and left her to die, The Oregonian reports. A new state law increased the amount of time off inmates can receive for good behavior from 20 to 30 percent.

The law — which squeaked by the Legislature — is stirring controversy among victims and prosecutors in all of Oregon’s 36 counties. The law affects about 4,600 inmates, convicted not only of drug and property crimes but also offenses including corpse abuse, incest, and hit-and-run driving. Public Defender Lane Borg supports the law as a realistic response to the state’s budget hole. Borg said Oregon’s law is much tougher than a Washington law that cuts in half the prison terms of some nonviolent inmates.

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