Friday, December 21, 2007

Crime is Down...Let's Build More Prisons!

Or so goes the thinking of Kevin Mannix.

I know Mannix' new ballot initiative has been covered in other places, but I feel the need to keep it in the public eye. The initiative system in Oregon is so completely abused that no matter how insane and unneccessary something is, the misinformation campaigns of people like Mannix, or Bill Sizemore always seem to sucker enough votes to be a threat and/or cause harm to the state.

Mannix wants a new law in Oregon, to supplement his Measure 11 success (for him maybe, not so good for the state), that would make prison sentences (18-36 months) mandatory for burglars, car thieves, identity thieves and low-level drug dealers. Well, if you watch nothing but the local evening news, where the first ten minutes of the broadcast are filled with nothing but robberies, shootings, break-ins, assaults and drug busts, than you might think Mannix is on the right track. But is he?Leaving aside that I have absolutely no use for manipulative people like Mannix who profit off of creating fear amongst voters, I decided to take a look around. Lo and behold we are not being crushed under the weight of a rampaging criminal element hellbent on taking everything of value from us. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. 2006 (the most recent available) statistics released by the FBI show that property crimes in Oregon fell by 16.6% from 2005 to 2006, well above the national trend. Yet, Mannix wants to initiate a law, carrying a $400 million price-tag to swell the prison population in Oregon, who is already the third fastest growing penal system in the country. In a time when we consistently fail to meet the educational, health and safety needs of many Oregonians, why would we want to mandate (and it would be a mandate) more money for prisons that are not neccessary?

David Rogers, executive director of the Partnership for Safety and Justice, says it perfectly:

“What is clear from these new figures is that we’re doing a good job of reducing property crimes and making our communities safer without building three or four new prisons and without locking up non-violent drug and property offenders for up to three years, as we will have to do under the Mannix Measure,” said Rogers. “We’re on a path to improved public safety that focuses on treatment, education opportunities and jobs, a much less expensive and more effective way to combat crime than mandatory sentences and costly prison sentences.”

There is absolutely no need for this new proposal from Mannix.


Phil said...

Mannix is sort of like Lon Mabon with a law degree. Oregon--and Oregonians--can get along just fine without him.

Oregonian37 said...

So true.