OUR 2019 LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP.

Congratulations on a mostly successful 2019 legislative session!

Overall it was a banner session for criminal justice reform, although we fell a bit short when it comes to adequately investing in crime survivor services. Here’s a wrap-up of the most notable reforms, including what passed, what didn’t, and next steps in our upcoming work.

PASSED! 1: ACCOUNTABILITY, EQUITY, AND THE PROMISE OF JUSTICE REINVESTMENT (HB 3064)

PROPOSAL: The Accountability and Equity Act measures Justice Reinvestment outcomes with particular attention to historically underserved groups so that we can continue reducing our reliance on prisons while also more effectively reaching rural and tribal communities, communities of color, women, and LGBTQ people.

WHAT’S NEXT: With your help and the support of equity, social justice, and criminal justice reform groups, we created the groundwork for greater equity and reduced reliance on prisons.

PASSED! 2: JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM (SB 1008)

PROPOSAL: Historic reforms of Oregon’s extreme Measure 11 mandatory minimum adult sentences imposed on youth ages 15, 16, and 17, including eliminating mandatory adult sentencing and juvenile life without parole.

WHAT’S NEXT: Together with our allies, we’ll advocate to meet the bill’s intended impacts and support the Department of Justice in creating more trauma-informed, culturally-specific notification and access to victim services.

Learn more about the research that supports these reforms here, and read about our policy research on the impact of Measure 11 on youth in our 2016 report Misguided Measures Revisited: Progress and Promise in Oregon’s Youth Justice System.

PASSED! 3: DOMESTIC & SEXUAL VIOLENCE SURVIVOR SERVICES (SB 5515)

PROPOSAL: Increased funding for the Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Fund, which is the only source of general state funds dedicated to crime survivors.

WHAT’S NEXT: Current funding will be maintained for emergency services with no increase, but that’s only half of what’s needed to serve victims across the state. Survivors of color are particularly under-reached by these dollars, placing people of color at increased risk. We will continue working with our survivor allies, advocating for dollars that Oregon survivors need to rebuild their lives.

Read more about how our work integrates the concerns of justice-involved people and crime survivors into a progressive public safety reform agenda in our 2011 report Moving Beyond Sides: The Power and Potential of a New Public Safety Policy Paradigm.

PASSED! 4: AFFORDABLE HOUSING (SB 608)

PROPOSAL: SB 608 increases Oregonians’ access to homes with more housing options and renters’ protections.

WHAT’S NEXT: Affordable housing is critical to public safety for both formerly incarcerated people and crime survivors. This bill was a victory, but to adequately meet victims’ urgent housing needs, we will continue to advocate for funding with our allies in the housing and survivor communities.

For more on the intersections of housing and public safety, check out our October Street Roots column in support of affordable housing.

PASSED! 5: MAINTAIN JUSTICE REINVESTMENT FUNDING (SB 5506)

PROPOSAL: Originally passed in 2013, Justice Reinvestment reduces Oregon’s prison use and invests in local solutions, crime prevention, and survivor services. It has already saved $200M and prevented two prisons from opening.

WHAT’S NEXT: All 36 counties will soon apply for dollars to meet each local community’s unique needs while striving to achieve four goals: holding people accountable for harm, reducing recidivism, decreasing prison use, and maintaining public safety.

Learn more about Justice Reinvestment in your county.

OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST

We also closely watched and supported several other bills, particularly ones that were priorities of our allies and coalition members.

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH REINVESTMENT (SB 973) Passed! Without adequate behavioral health services, people who need treatment can land in jails and prisons. SB 973 establishes a grant program to distribute over $10M to community-based supports and services aimed at preventing this cycle.

TRAUMA-INFORMED TRAINING FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT (HB 2750) Did not pass. Would have funded trauma informed trainings for law enforcement agencies and local governments so that they can be more effective and successful when interacting with survivors of trauma.

EXPUNGING MARIJUANA CONVICTIONS (SB 420) Passed! Will erase marijuana records with a simpler process that includes waiving court filing fees and eliminating of the need for a criminal background check.

$3M FOR VICTIM HOUSING (HB 2006) Passed! This one-time fund will bridge some of the housing deficits that make crime survivors vulnerable, but future funding will be required to promote adequate safety and healing.

DRIVER LICENSES FOR ALL (HB 2015): Passed! Broadens access to driver licenses so that all Oregonians can have safe and reliable access to our roads regardless of documentation status.

SIGNIFICANTLY LIMITING THE DEATH PENALTY (SB 1013) Passed! While not eliminating capital punishment completely, the new law shrinks the list of crimes that can receive death sentences.

Learn how you can get involved and get updates on our work.