Measure 73 was up for debate this past week in the Legislature. The measure would stiffen penalties for both sex offenders and drunk drivers. Support for the measure is low, however, given the cost and the current financial climate.
According to the Statesman-Journal the initiative is sponsored by Kevin Mannix, a Republican candidate for governor and a former legislator himself. The item will be on the November ballot.
In regards to sexual offenses, the measure would increase the minimum penalty to 25 years for four specific sex crimes—first degree rape, first degree unlawful sexual penetration, first degree sodomy, and using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct.
It would also increase the penalty for a third offense of DUI. If adopted, measure 73 would create a mandatory 90 jail sentence. Currently, there is no such mandatory sentence for DUII.
Critics of the measure point to the cost of the added incarceration as reason enough for it not to pass. Supporters state it’s a matter of public safety—worth the expense.
The Statesman article points to a drop in violent crime between 1995 and 2005 and points to Measure 11 which imposed a series of mandatory minimums for violent crime as responsible. However, this connection certainly can’t be credited with all of the crime reduction.
Most cities experienced such a drop within the 1995-2005 decade and the drop could be attributed to any number of things. It is likely the sentencing laws impacted crime, though not probably they were wholly responsible for the nose dive.
Alternatives to incarceration should be considered long before stiffer prison sentences are mandated. In the prison system, inmates are far less likely to be given the treatment and education they need to live a reformed life. Probation and other community alternatives, however, help them maintain a job and standing within their family and community while paying a debt to society.
Probation is often a favorable outcome for all parties in a criminal case. The state wins because the taxpayers don’t have to carry the burden of another inmate. The defendant wins because they aren’t locked up away from their family and their life.
Although probation is often the outcome in DUII and assault cases, it isn’t always an option. Knowing if you’re eligible for probation or other community alternatives can ease your mind when up against criminal charges and a potential jail sentence.
If you are facing criminal charges, contact our offices today for a free consultation.