by Cassandra Villanueva, Contributing Columnist
A hairline crack in the windshield of my sister’s car turned our family’s world upside down in 2010. On their way home from the store to celebrate my nephew’s birthday, my sister was stopped by police two blocks from home. In the passenger seat was her husband with a birthday cake in his lap and three of their children were in the backseat.
For years, they had lived cautiously in the shadows and practiced what they would do if they were pulled over or stopped by the police. They talked about how they would know their rights, remain silent, and not answer any questions about immigration status. But all that rehearsal was useless when the police threatened to detain my sister and kids as well for not answering about my brother-in-law’s immigration status. Out of fear for harm against his family, he admitted he was undocumented and the police dragged him out of the car and took him away. Continue reading
By Denise Welch, Contributing Columnist
There has been a lot of national news coverage lately about attempts to change voting laws in a number of states. Many of the laws seem to be designed to keep certain categories of people away from the polls: the elderly, the poor, minorities. Continue reading
By David Rogers, Contributing Columnist
In late July, Oregonians found out there was new opposition to much-needed criminal justice reform. Actually, it’s old opposition that has developed a new front group.
Steve Doell, director of Crime Victims United, has apparently created a new group called the Truth in Sentencing Project. The Truth in Sentencing Project went on the air in late July with a short radio ad in a new effort to manipulate the public.
The ad tells listeners that Oregon’s prison system is so costly not because of high incarceration rates, but because our average cost to incarcerate an inmate is so expensive. Doell’s ad tells people that “Inmate costs are $82 a day in Oregon. $52 a day in Idaho.” He suggests if we made incarceration costs more in line with Idaho we would save plenty of money. Continue reading
By Naivasha Dean, Contributing Columnist
With about eight months to go until our next legislative session, Oregonians can feel the vice-grip of our multi-billion dollar deficit tightening. We are tired of the cuts. We are tired of crisis mode. We are really tired of having to choose between funding our prisons and educating our children — and when K-12 class sizes grow right along with prisons, we’ve made those choices. Likewise, it’s senseless when funding shortages back county law enforcement into a corner — counties such as Josephine County, which has begun dismantling its sheriff’s office and is cutting its road patrol hours in half.
That’s why Partnership for Safety and Justice is happy to be able to share some good news: This imbalance in priorities and spending is being called into question. On May 14, Oregon got two major boosts towards a vital goal: reforming our public safety system to become more cost-efficient and effective. The first leg-up came directly from the desk of Gov. John Kitzhaber, who reconvened a new and expanded Commission on Public Safety, a bipartisan, inter-branch task force charged with figuring out ways to use Oregon’s limited public safety dollars in a smart way. The second came from a national source: The Pew Public Safety Performance Project, which announced that it has decided to step in and provide crucial technical support to the commission’s efforts. Continue reading
By Naivasha Dean, Contributing writer
Oregonians, it’s time to talk about sex.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time for Oregonians to talk about sexual violence, the needs of survivors, and ways to prevent sexual violence. This year’s theme, “It’s time … to talk about it,” encourages people to have conversations about sex that promote healthy behaviors and encourage safe relationships.
In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we thought it would be useful to demystify the topic as well as talk about some structural changes Oregon needs to make in order to get more serious about violence prevention. Continue reading
by Erika Spaet, Guest Columnist
Do you consider yourself to be a foolish person? I certainly don’t. But that’s what tough-on-crime forces in this state think we are: dumb. By using scare tactics, inaccurate information and millions of out-of-state dollars, political agenda-setters have put forward — and passed — regressive public safety ballot measures, and now more than ever, we need to be smarter voters.
The most notable public safety ballot measure is Measure 11. As you know, Measure 11 created mandatory-minimum sentences for 21 crimes in Oregon and exponentially increased our prison population and corrections spending. It was crafted by Oregon politician Kevin Mannix and funded by out-of-state donor Loren Parks. Continue reading