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Changes to Oregon’s bail law take effect

JAIL_EXTERIOR.jpg
Rachael McDonald
/
KLCC
Oregon's system of bail is undergoing significant changes.

Oregon’s law that governs pretrial release is undergoing a major change starting in July. The goal of the new system is to focus more on the accused person’s flight risk and safety risk to the community, instead of creating an arbitrary bail amount based on the type of crime.

State Court administrator Nancy Cozine told the Oregon Senate’s Rules committee prior to a vote last year that the new system is intended to be more fair.

“We have learned over the years and through numerous studies that there are inherent inequities and negative consequences when people can pay to secure their release," said Cozine. "The system ignores the risk of harm to victims and the community, and the likelihood that a person may willfully fail to appear. It also keeps some people in jail when they can’t afford to pay.”

Critics of the new law say that people with low-level offenses will be more likely to skip future court dates if they don’t have to pay to secure their release.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”