PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN0) — A big fight is brewing in Salem over legislation that would roll back part of Measure 11’s tough sentencing rules for violent crimes.
Twenty-five years ago, Oregon voters passed Measure 11 to require mandatory minimum sentences for certain violent crimes. It includes no early release and if you are age 15 or older, you’re tried as an adult.
Now Senate Bill 1008, passed by the Oregon Senate, would give judges more flexibility with juvenile offenders.
Families who have lost loved ones at the hands of teenage criminals say they’ll fight to block this.
Randy Tennant’s mother was killed by his then 17-year-old nephew, who confessed to killing his grandmother.
“He said somebody in his head told him “Kill her, kill her, kill her” and he then stabbed her 17 times in the head and the neck,” Tennant said.
Andrew Johnson was sentenced to life in prison 5 years ago. Tennant worries the bill to modify Measure 11 could let him go free.
“Oh my god, if he gets out in 15 years — I have children,” Tennant said.
Supporters of SB 1008 say there needs to be more leniency for teens who commit crimes and are able to reform.
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Doug Brown with the ACLU of Oregon said:
“SB 1008 is a moderate and evidence-driven update to our youth justice system and it does NOT overturn Measure 11. No sentence is reduced because of this bill. All parts of Measure 11 that apply to adults are untouched. All this does is update certain procedures in our juvenile code that relate to when a youth may be waived into adult court, and when a youth is given a meaningful opportunity to prove they are ready to be safely released.”
Changing a voter-approved measure requires a two-thirds vote. This bill just barely got that in the Senate and will now head to the House.
Over the past 25 years, more than 1,000 minors have been sentenced under Measure 11.