Thursday, July 25, 2019

Oregon changes law that automatically charged juveniles as adults

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has signed into law reforms that end a decades-old practice of automatically sending youths accused of serious crimes to adult court, the Oregonian reports. Under the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, prosecutors must request a hearing to determine whether anyone ages 15 to 17 should be moved to adult court when facing charges under a 1994 mandatory-minimum sentencing law called Measure 11. Adult-court referrals previously were automatic.
Measure 11 charges come with high bail and long prison sentences. Crimes covered by the law include sex offenses, murder, robbery and assault. The bill had broad support from a cross-section of organizations and leaders. Oregon Department of Corrections and Oregon Youth Authority leaders supported it. So did the association that represents juvenile department directors. Dozens of retired circuit court and appellate judges from across the state submitted a letter to the legislature encouraging a yes vote. “By changing the sentencing guidelines for youth offenders, our communities will be safer,” the governor said in a statement. “And more Oregonians will have better chances of using their time in custody to make a turnaround in their lives.”
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