Oregon Mandatory Sentencing Law May Change

Oregon lawmakers are considering legislation that would create sentencing guidelines for judges to use for felonies aside from murder, which would significantly impact the mandatory minimum sentencing law.   

Measure 11, the state’s minimum sentencing law, was approved almost 30 years ago – in 1994. It was written “to apply mandatory minimum prison sentences to certain crimes against persons committed on or after April 1, 1995, with no possibility for any reduction in sentence, such as for good behavior.” Measure 11 also mandated that juveniles age 15 and older charged with the certain felonies be tried as adults.  

“We need to allow the court to take in all factors and all considerations as to making their determination as to what is the most appropriate sentence on a case-by-case basis,” said Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene in a statement to KLCC. “And I would assume the court will take all factors, including race and demographics, whatever it may be, in consideration with maybe their life and other experiences.”  

Prozanski is the chair of the Oregon Senate’s Judiciary Committee, which is currently debating Senate Bill 401, which would allow the court to impose greater or lesser sentences according to set guidelines for specific felonies other than murder.  

Opponents to SB 401 say Measure 11 provides assurances to those who are the victims of violent crimes. The Oregon District Attorneys Association submitted a testimony saying that Measure 11 “has kept Oregonians safe and provided justice to victims of violent physical and sexual assaults.”  

Critics of Measure 11 say that the measure gives prosecutors too much weight in the sentencing process.   

Both the Oregon House and Senate would need at least two-thirds approval for the law to change.    

By: Hannah Ramsey