City Club of Eugene: Measure 11 Mandatory Sentences: Repeal, Revise, or Retain
Program Date: Dec. 10, 2021
Air Date: Dec. 13, 2021
Measure 11 is a state law that sets minimum mandatory sentences for certain crimes. It was approved by ballot referendum in 1994 by a nearly two-thirds majority of Oregon voters and went into effect on April 1, 1995. It was reaffirmed by the voters in 2000, but has also undergone several revisions in its nearly 30-year history.
Legal scholars and lawyers have long debated what is the correct mix of the various goals of sentencing: punishment, rehabilitation, deterrence, or just separation from society. In recent years, criminal justice reform advocates at the local, state, and federal levels have focused attention on “mandatory minimums,” alleging that they have contributed to overincarceration and have been applied in a discriminatory manner.
Oregon State Senator Floyd Prozanski has introduced a bill to do away with all mandatory sentences except murder, giving the trial judges more discretion in sentencing. Another bill would allow Measure 11 offenders a chance to get out on early release credits.
Defenders of mandatory minimums, including many of Oregon’s District Attorneys, argue that the provisions contribute to clearer, more consistent sentencing and have played an important role in the sharp decrease in crime that the state has witnessed since 1995.
We’ll hear from two speakers who are involved with these issues every day—State Senator Prozanski and Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow. They will provide different perspectives on the best course of action for Oregon moving forward.
Floyd Prozanski was first elected to the Oregon Legislature in 1994. He currently chairs the Senate Judiciary and Ballot Measure 11 Implementation Committee. He co-chairs the Senate Conduct Committee and serves on the Senate Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery Committee, the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Public Safety, and the Legislative Counsel Committee. Between legislative sessions, he works as a municipal prosecutor. He graduated from Texas A&M University and earned his law degree from South Texas College of Law.
Patricia Perlow is Lane County’s first female elected District Attorney. She was appointed by Governor Brown in August 2015 and was elected by the voters in 2016 and 2020. As District Attorney, she oversees an office of 73 full time equivalent employees and a budget of $11.1 million, including over $3 million in grants and other funding. Early in her career, District Attorney Perlow clerked for Lane County Circuit Court Judges Douglas Spencer and Kip Leonard. She earned her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Oregon and was admitted to the Oregon bar in 1989. She has been a prosecutor in the Lane County District Attorney’s Office since 1990.