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Starting in 2018, Life in Prison for Oregon Sex Crimes

Locking people up in perpetuity "may satisfy our sense of moral outrage, but it does not make good policy," opponents warn.

Ingram Publishing/NewscomIngram Publishing/NewscomOregon is about to enact one of the country's most draconian, carceral, and unnecessary "public safety" measures. Beginning on January 1, 2018, certain sex crimes committed in the state will come with a presumptive sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole or release.

The life-imprisonment standard will apply to those convicted of first-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration if they have a prior conviction in Oregon for any of these crimes, a conviction on similar charges in another state, or "an equivalent federal offense."

The measure was introduced by Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) in April 2017. It was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown in August.

An analysis of the proposed fiscal impact of the legislation found it "could impose significant increases in public defense costs," estimating cost increases of around $800,000 to $1,350,000 per year.

"I think that all of us can feel the emotional pull of this bill, because we share not only a revulsion for the crimes it addresses but also a particular revulsion when these crimes are repeated," wrote Ken Nolley, president of Oregon Voices, in a letter opposing the life-imprisonment proposal.

But since 2013, the state has been shifting from criminal sentencing tied strictly to offense category to a system built on an individual's likelihood to reoffend—a shift initiated "because the evidence suggested that it was the most effective way of protecting society," Nolley noted. Courtney and Thatcher's bill "ignores our current commitment to limit prison growth by using sentencing wisely" and overlooks the fact that Oregon "already (has) the tools to put a second time offender away for a long time."

"There is no reason to believe that even these people will be dangerous forever," Nolley continued. "We now have an exceedingly difficult and expensive geriatric problem in our prisons, where we warehouse people who are so physically infirm that they cannot take care of themselves, let alone offend violently against another. Locking such people up in perpetuity may satisfy our sense of moral outrage, but it does not make good policy."

Photo Credit: Ingram Publishing/Newscom

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  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    "We now have an exceedingly difficult and expensive geriatric problem in our prisons, where we warehouse people who are so physically infirm that they cannot take care of themselves, let alone offend violently against another."

    Well if somebody hadn't eliminated the death penalty... *eyeroll*

  • Tionico||

    but the death penalty is not appropriate for rape. That is not, nor has ever been, a capital offense. Shouldn't start now, either

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    This is the first I'm hearing about the new Oregon policy, but I'm inclined to support it. In college I learned that the United States is a rape culture populated by rapists and rape denialists and rape apologists, and we have major work to do if we're going to address our plague of sexual violence. Getting tougher on convicted sex offenders is a step in the right direction. Just imagine if Harvey Weinstein had received a life sentence after the second time he raped somebody — many innocent women would have been spared from his predatory behavior.

    I also learned from my friend who was a women's studies major that false rape accusations almost never happen, so don't bother reciting some debunked MRA talking points like "What if the woman is lying!"

  • Crusty Juggler||

    This is so good.

  • Bearded Spock||

    I gotta admit, he's almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

  • Paloma||

    Needs more rape words.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    OBLT: In reply to an earlier post I asked if you were a provocateur or an f'n idiot; my mistake as you are clearly the former; apparently your acerbic yet subtle wit was lost on me. At least this statement is much more obvious in that respect.

  • buybuydandavis||

    I need you in my Twitter feed!

  • buybuydandavis||

    I need you in my Twitter feed!

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    If your second conviction for rape in the first degree produces more moral outrage than you bargained for, well, tough twinkies.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Is the bill soft on Gomorrahmy? Mention of that unchristian perversity has been conspicuously absent.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    'An analysis of the proposed fiscal impact of the legislation found it "could impose significant increases in public defense costs," estimating cost increases of around $800,000 to $1,350,000 per year.'

    I believe that is spelled "insignificant"

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Criminals who break the law shouldn't be able to receive a taxpayer-funded lawyer.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    At what point have you found this person guilty? If you are talking about for appeal purposes, I might agree with you. If you are talking initial trial, I'd say that is just one of the costs of the Rule of Law that we have to bear.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    At what point have you found this person guilty?

    When I found out they committed a crime.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Is this before or after a trial?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    After they have been arrested.

  • esteve7||

    Watch Star Trek deep space 9 - episode 2x25 Tribunal

  • Hank Phillips||

    Better still, Fat Freddy, impanelled, discovers the defendant is: "some poor hippie. He's innocent, I can tell!"

  • Tom Bombadil||

    'overlooks the fact that Oregon "already (has) the tools to put a second time offender away for a long time." '

    Oregon probably also has the tools to put a second time offender away for a short time. I think that's the point of this law.

  • Rhywun||

    So, two strikes you're out. The priz industry is gonna love this.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    How many times would you let someone rape you before you took that person out?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Why would he date someone who raped him?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You know they are good at it?

  • Rhywun||

    At least three times.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    It's a charm.

  • Jimbo||

    Depends: Did she like being raped?

  • Hank Phillips||

    What about the sex doll industry? Oregon faces Asia, and is likely crawling with sex doll vendors and lobbyists.

  • Rich||

    a system built on an individual's likelihood to reoffend

    Uh, huh. And how exactly is that likelihood determined?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    I guess when it is noted that they reoffended.

  • Rich||

    "My client has learned his lesson now, Your Honor. He's even going to church!"

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Don't sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates?

    I thought that most worst sex offenders are family of the victim, so after the crimes are exposed the family never let's Uncle Chuck near kids again.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    All the more reason why a two-timer should be receive special treatment.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I am not saying that horrendous crimes should not get serious prison time, I am just saying that knee-jerk reactionary sentencing laws tend to not work as designed.

    Since sex registries are unconstitutional and are slowing being deemed so by the courts, the only alternative tracking for sex offenders is keeping them in jail with longer sentences.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    What makes you label this as 'knee-jerk'?

    This has nothing to do with sex registries, at all. This is sentencing of a repeat offender of a horrific crime. Debate it all you want, but don't mislabel it.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It is a knee-jerk reaction just like the sex registries were. Sorry you cannot see that.

    As I stated in my lower post and you did not read the actual Oregon law, they are reclassifying what is rape. Sex crimes are affecting under 18 kids and now they want to send them to prison for life.

    One thing the appellate court system is good at is sorting out knee-jerk prosecutions based on knee-jerk laws. /S

  • Tom Bombadil||

    I read all three links to Oregon law. I don't have a problem with the definition of rape they use.

    This harsh sentencing is for a 2nd rape conviction.

    Honestly, anybody who rapes one of my family members is as good as dead. First offense.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    But see, you were wrong. They changed incest to rape and that has not been rape "for a long time".

    Plus, 2015 ORS 163.375, does not say "2nd rape conviction", so you are assuming that judges spend a lot of time cross referencing laws when it comes to sentencing.

    Good luck with your revenge killings and police state based on knee-jerk reactionaries. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    No, 2015 ORS 163.375 doesn't say anything about "2nd rape".

    See if you can figure out why.

    Did you know this new law (2017) does not define (nor change the definition of) rape? It refers to the statute (2015) which defines rape.
    The new law addresses sentencing for repeat offenders.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Genius Tom. Way to avoid that rape was changed in 2015 to include incest.

    The existing law does not mention "2nd offense" so judges must actually know all the laws that are out there to sentence people. One thing we see in court are judges asking prosecutors what the relevant laws are.

    See if you can figure out why that's important to this discussion.

  • Jimbo||

    Those damn cheating 2-timers!

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The same way odds were calculated on Brexit failing, Hillary winning, and temperatures increasing!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I guess the cracks in unconstitutional lifetime sex offender registries schemes opened by the courts is driving those of the knee-jerk reactionaries variety to implement proven plans like locking up first timers for life on crimes that were not even crimes years ago.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "The life-imprisonment standard will apply to those convicted of first-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration if they have a prior conviction in Oregon for any of these crimes, "

    Not first-timers. And rape has been a crime for a long time.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tom, you might have wanted to read the Oregon law:

    A person who has sexual intercourse with another person commits the crime of rape in the first degree if:
    (a) The victim is subjected to forcible compulsion by the person;
    (b) The victim is under 12 years of age;
    (c) The victim is under 16 years of age and is the person's sibling, of the whole or half blood, the person's child or the person's spouse's child; or
    (d) The victim is incapable of consent by reason of mental defect, mental incapacitation or physical helplessness.

    Subsection (c) is incest which they want to make rape. As I stated, the politicians don't think about the consequences of these knee-jerk laws. Do Oregon residents want 14 year old siblings going to prison for life for messing around, which used to be incest?

    These sex crimes trend to get kids into the criminal justice system because some jurisdictions don't see that horny teenagers are....well....horny.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    That is already the law as of 2015.

    The new law (2017) which is the subject of this article is only addressing sentencing of repeat offenders.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    2017 Regular Session
    SB 1050 Enrolled
    Provides that presumptive sentence for certain sex crimes is life imprisonment without possibility of release or parole if defendant has certain prior conviction at time of offense.

    Yup..."certain" prior convictions.

    As I said, you are assuming judges will be diligent in cross-referencing criminal statutes.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Yes, since the law explicitly refers to the statutes that define those sex crimes, I am very certain the judges will do exactly that. Do you think Judges just prance around with one piece of the puzzle? Jesus Christ. Will you let it go, not everyone is a retard.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You're a retard because you clearly have never sat in a courtroom and witnessed what judges do but you think judges are just great at their jobs.

    Jesus Christ is right. You're wrong about incest being a rape crime and won't admit it.

    The you call people names who have shown you to be wrong.

    Sad.

  • Chuckles_the_Snarky_Piggy||

    I got a camera ticket in Oregon for running a red light when what i actually did was fail to come to a complete stop when making a right turn on a red light. I pointed out to the judge a statute that stated, unambiguously, ithat a person guilty of the latter was not guilty of the former. The judges' response was that I did not understand statute construction and that I was guilty of both.

    Even clearly worded statutes get interpreted contrary to the intent.

    Hook up with a second time with a drunk chick who regrets it later (incapacitated) and face life in prison?

    Poor guy will plead guilty to anything else to avoid the chance of life if convicted. It's a prosecutor's wet dream.

  • gormadoc||

    I believe the point is that you don't want the presumptive sentence for two 15 yo siblings caught screwing after they've been caught already to be life imprisonment. The fact that the first act was criminalized doesn't actually justify the harsher sentencing the second time. It also doesn't justify criminalizing it the first time.

    It's not a terrible likely chance that it'll happen, but the law as-written would allow this.

    A more likely scenario involves an older sibling molesting a younger sibling, getting convicted, and then committing rape in college (or rather when they would be in college, since prison makes it difficult to prepare for it). I think what he did was terrible but it doesn't warrant life imprisonment.

  • Dan S.||

    Calling subsection (c) first degree rape is problematic, but not because it could lead to someone being locked up for life, which it can't. Someone who served a sentence for a first rape offense will not be a teenager, or have an under-16 sibling to fool around with, when he gets out,

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Are you sure? Courts are notorious for being harsh on kids and then letting them out while they are still under 18.

    In that case, it would be revised as to age but the fact still remains that do you want fucked up underage siblings who hump going to prison for life?

    That's what these horribly written knee-jerk reactionary laws set up for.

    There are too many sex laws already on the books and Oregon wants to add more? I mean... I am not surprised because its Oregon but still.

  • Robert||

    Presumably both the 14 YOs would be victims & criminals.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Exactly! So how does a bloated government branch deal with that that does not wreck the kids lives and the parents lives?

    History shows us that more criminal laws does not solve a lot of these problems.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It important to fully read these laws because when there are unintended loopholes, prosecutors find them and oftentimes take full advantage of them to up their prosecution stats.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Thanks for the advice. Now go take your own advice because you have completely lost the plot.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Figures. You have been lost for quite some time.

    Sad.

  • tetonmoon||

    Yeah they just found out their 401k plans will increase a ton with a full private prison filled with so called sex offenders and they don't make squat on just damning them to a lifetime of homelessness.
    So hey lock em up and lets make more laws and the ones we have are so open to interpretation that we can almost convict anyone. Oh and screw equal justice. We will pay prosecutors whatever they want but hey buddy if you cannot afford an attorney we will be sure to get you an underpaid, over worked inexperienced or incompetent one to help you hang.
    Stupid fucking people who just jump on the bandwagon. Don't bother to think critically if at all. Just likes others to think for them. That is a governments wet dream.

  • Hank Phillips||

    If the LP is to get any votes in Oregon, we're gonna have to get rid of that creepy 2016 plank against the judicial death sentence.

  • CE||

    Seems like it would cut down on repeat offenders though.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    My understanding is that sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates of criminals.

    I think history shows us that life imprisonment or death sentences don't necessarily reduce the particular behavior to warrant the increase in taxpayer costs and other costs. I would bet that judges can sentence heinous sex offenders to serious prison time under current law.

    Even less mentioned are the numerous cases of wrongly convicted innocent people sitting in prison (for life) while their appeals are ignored.

    Oregon just wants to add more criminal laws onto a broken system.

  • Empress Trudy||

    One of two things will happen. Either taxes will rise to the sky to pay for all the prison beds, or the law will be ignored and rape will largely be decriminalized

  • Malvolio||

    So remember, rapists: if you leave a victim alive, she could testify against you, and murder is free.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Oregon last voted for a Republican President in 1984.

    Progressitarian moment!

    Are the cocktail party invites really worth it?

  • gormadoc||

    You're commenting this on an article criticizing Oregon? It's even written by the author most attacked as progressive.

    And on this issue, I think this law is more standard Democrat/Republican fare (Democrat in this case). They're just trying to buy SJW votes and don't care about criminals or money; criminals don't vote and the politicians aren't paying.

  • Activist2020||

    Oregon needs to do one more thing: Counter-balance this tough-on-crime life-in-prison sex crime law by completely repealing the (up-until-now) worthless sex offender registration law. The facts to back this up are already well established and are easy to verify. Here is what I mean: There are state and federal criminal studies across the at least 18 states, and Canada too, that show that most sex crimes are committed by somebody already known to the future victim anyway (and not the "stranger-danger" guy listed on the sex offender registry near you and that almost all sex perpetrators are first timers not on any registry of any sort. Add in the fact that these registered citizens have very low re-offense rates anyway and you have to ask yourself why we have these kinds of Scarlet Letter registries in the first place. Why do we allow government to waste tax payer dollars on these worthless government blacklist (registries) that persecute law-abiding citizens for an entire lifetime? And without benefiting public safety either? If you are an Oregonian, please consider signing the Oregon Initiative #3 (2018) to repeal the sex offender registry law.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    All said and done this law, along with increasingly complicated and draconian laws in states like California, have nothing to do with the crime as such and everything to do with making political bonus points. Nobody can oppose this kind of bill because nobody can be seen as supporting sex offenders, particularly if they are mother rapers or father rapers. Nor does anybody care if these scum bunnies are locked away for life because nobody wants to know about them either. So let's just stop pretending this is a subject for rational debate. Sex offenders are nothing more or less than low-hanging fruit in the criminal justice system and that is likely never to change. And so it goes.

  • tommhan||

    Life without parole for these assholes IS sentencing wisely.

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