In the interest of saving money and taking pressure off the courts, a group of high-powered Oregon prosecutors proposed significant changes this week. And while some legislators are opposed to many of the terms, there’s a good chance the proposal could have positive effects on marijuana law enforcement.
According to the Statesman Journal, the Oregon District Attorneys Association proposed their plan at a conference in Oregon City. There they revealed the outline would save an estimated $600 million over the next ten years, in part by capping the state’s prison population at 14,600.
The attorneys were cautious not to affect any violent crime penalties but say the “business” of justice requires they do something about the thousands funneled into the system each year.
“(Reducing drug sentences) isn’t something we would do in a perfect world,” said Clackamas County DA John Foote. “But we think these are the most responsible options available.”
Both marijuana and driving-while suspended sentences would be reduced, saving most of these offenders from the potential of prison time. Also, drug sentencing changes of Measure 57 would be repealed to take the state back to sentencing guidelines used before 2008. Finally, the Department of Corrections would be forced to reduce the cost of administrative operations.
Another positive recommendation the Association made is in diverting some of the savings into reentry programs, designed to help people succeed once released from prison. Currently about 25% of those released from state prisons are being convicted of another felony within three years.
When prosecutors and otherwise-conservative lawmakers begin looking at options to reduce sentences, you know we’ve reached a turning point. The amount of money, time, and energy spent on sending nonviolent drug offenders to prison is astronomical and asinine. Reevaluating the laws and policies that sent them there is long overdue.
Lawmakers are said to be taking the suggestions into consideration, though some are already critical of reducing sentences.
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