Juvenile Justice Bill Advances to Final Vote

Senate Bill 1008 (SB 1008), a bill which would reform the mandatory referral of juveniles to be tried as adults for serious crimes, has passed out of committee and is headed toward a contentious floor vote. 

As The Advocate reported a few weeks ago, SB 1008 would reform certain aspects of Measure 11, a bill passed in the 1990s during a wave of criminal justice reforms, many of which are now considered contributing factors toward current issues in the justice system. SB 1008 seeks to change the mandatory sentencing laws, which currently require anyone 15 and older to be tried as an adult for extreme offenses, such as murder or rape. 

The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill 6-5 on Tuesday, May 21, with one Democrat joining Republicans in opposition. On the floor of the House, the bill has bipartisan support among lawmakers and support from law enforcement officials, who cite contemporary science which suggests human brains aren’t fully developed until they are at least 20 years old. 

Opposed are the Oregon District Attorneys Association, who have been lobbying for changes to the bill, which were rejected in committee. Having already passed the Senate, Republican opposition in the House is claiming they “can get a better bill,” according to Rep. Mike McClane (R-Powell Butte). Others claim the bill is the product of a “partisan vote.” 

Governor Kate Brown said she “actively looks forward to signing it.” 

By Ian MacRonald