Kitzhaber Signs Public Safety Package Into Law

By Chris Lehman

If projections are correct, Oregon will need to build fewer prison beds under a new law. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a wide-ranging public safety bill Thursday. But the measure he approved fell short of what the Democrat proposed.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signs HB 3194 into law. Photo by Chris Lehman.Kitzhaber had wanted lawmakers to significantly curb the growth of Oregon's inmate population over the next decade. That would have potentially required controversial changes to the state's mandatory minimum sentencing plan for some violent crimes. Prosecutors and some legislators balked. So the proposal was dialed back to reduce sentences only for some drug and driving convictions. Still, the governor said the plan will reap economic benefits over the next five years.

John Kitzhaber: "This bill turned out a little bit different than we originally had envisioned but essentially moves us in exactly the right direction and didn't leave in its wake bitterness and polarization that would make it harder to take additional steps in the future. So I'm very satisfied with what we've got."

The money saved by the reduced sentences will go to crime prevention programs. The measure passed the legislature earlier this month in the closing days of the session.

On the web:

Oregon House Bill 3194:

https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2013R1/Measures/Overview/HB3194

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