Panel recommends change in prison terms

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by JONATHAN J. COOPER, Associated Press

kgw.com

Posted on December 17, 2012 at 4:33 PM

SALEM -- A commission created by Gov. John Kitzhaber proposes rolling back mandatory-minimum prison sentences for certain offenses.

The idea is among several proposed changes in a report the commission approved Monday and forwarded to the Legislature.

Commissioners propose eliminating or modifying mandatory minimums for second-degree robbery, second-degree assault and first-degree sex abuse, instead giving judges more flexibility to set sentences. The report also recommends reducing minimum sentences for some property and drug crimes.

Kitzhaber and his allies insist Oregon can reduce spending on prisons without compromising public safety. They say rapid prison growth is diverting money from higher priorities like education.

Critics, including district attorneys, say the problem is overstated. The DAs oppose changing mandatory minimums, but agree with other proposed changes, such as reducing sentences for some marijuana-related offenses.

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