A law intended to save taxpayers $6 million by cutting the sentences of Oregon’s nonviolent prisoners has unwittingly opened freedom’s door early to hundreds of violent inmates, reports The Oregonian. They include Troy Lee Hischar, who fired a bullet so close to his ex-girlfriend’s skull that it clipped off a tuft of hair; Raul Peña-Jimenez, who gave a 16-year-old girl drugs and alcohol before sexually assaulting her; and Joseph Duane Betts, a convicted child molester who exposed himself to two boys.
Nearly 800 of the 2,397 inmates approved for reduced sentences were sent to prison for crimes as serious as robbery, arson, and attempted murder or had previous convictions for crimes against people, The Oregonian found in an examination of state corrections data. Legislators acknowledge they left more than a dozen serious crimes off the list of offenses that disqualify inmates from reduced sentences. Prisoners could get extra time off for crimes such as assaulting police officers, sexually abusing children, or committing certain kinds of arson or robbery.