For too long, our response to harm and violence has largely defaulted to a single solution: severe prison sentences. But severe prison sentences are the most expensive and least effective approach to achieving community safety, accountability, and healing. In fact, severe prison sentences disproportionately shatter communities of color and low-income communities, limit opportunities for rehabilitation, and siphon resources that should be directed to crime survivors’ healing.
Our best path towards stronger and safer communities is investing in proven solutions that prevent crime, invest in trauma recovery, reduce racial disparities, promote restoration, and offer second chances.
- Crime prevention. Our criminal justice system should focus on reducing harm and violence rather than exacerbating them. This means investing in communities’ resources that respond to trauma recovery, addiction, mental illness, and poverty
- Invest in trauma recovery. Crime victims and survivors have limited resources to help rebuild their lives after trauma. Instead of directing taxpayer dollars into prisons, we should invest in healing, ensuring that crime survivors of color have equitable access to services.
- Reduce racial disparities. People and communities of color are disproportionately represented at every point in the public safety, criminal, and legal systems. To undo this systemic racism and the resulting generational trauma, we need to use all the tools we have, including clemency.
- Promote restoration. We can invest in restorative justice programs that center the experiences of those harmed; encourage those who have caused harm to take responsibility, repair the harm, and identify solutions that promote healing; and support crime victims and survivors who have been harmed, as well as community members who are impacted by that harm.
- Offer second chances. People who have been accountable and taken responsibility for the harm they’ve caused should be given a second chance to be contributing members of our communities; these earned opportunities should be without barriers such as fees and other collateral consequences that keep people in poverty and prevent them from thriving.
These are values that Oregonians deserve in our public safety and criminal legal systems, and you have expanded opportunities for each through the thoughtful and thorough clemency review process that you directed.