Salem, OR (July 1, 2013)–Oregon’s State Legislature passed a wide-ranging criminal justice bill implementing reforms proven to improve public safety while saving taxpayer dollars.
HB 3194 makes use of criminal justice reforms championed by conservatives that enhance local public safety efforts while slowing a projected increase in the state’s prison population, saving a projected $326 million over the next ten years. The bill will modify nonviolent drug and property sentences so that prison beds are focused on serious, violent offenders.
Marc Levin, Right on Crime’s Policy Director, said, “We’re glad to see Oregon adopting some of the best practices in the area of criminal justice reform that have been proven effective.
“As conservatives, we believe that all government programs should be carefully scrutinized, even the most essential function of public safety. This measure will hold both offenders and the criminal justice system more accountable.
“Prison time is best reserved for serious violent and chronic offenders with cost savings applied to reducing crime and recidivism.
“This legislation will lead to safer communities at a lower cost to Oregonians by strengthening probation, problem-solving courts, and local law enforcement.”
Oregon’s HB 3194 follows efforts of several states, including Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas that are implementing “justice reinvestment” policies designed to protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs. These reforms presaged the first drop in the national prison population in nearly 40 years, while crime rates continue to decline.
Absent HB 3194’s passage, Oregon’s prison population was expected to grow by 2,000 through 2013 with the majority of that increase being nonviolent offenders that would have cost taxpayers an additional $600 million over ten years. HB 3194 cuts that expected cost by $326 million.