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Old 09-23-2004, 12:09 PM
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Default Article: MEASURE 11 defender weighs in on Black case

Measure 11 defender weighs in on Black case


Steve Doell says stats show law helped cut violent crime

By Barney Lerten
Bend.com
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 11:50 AM
Reference Code: AR-18105

September 21 - The head of a crime victims’ group that has championed Measure 11’s mandatory sentencing law against often heated opposition said Tuesday that a recent, controversial decision which sent a young Bend man to prison for 6-plus years shows the measure's strengths, not its flaws.

The case of David Black, convicted of manslaughter in the August 2003 street-racing death of a 15-year-old girl, did not come up in questions posed to Steve Doell, president of Crime Victims United (www.crimevictimsunited.org), after he spoke to the Rotary Club of Greater Bend, using charts and tables to show a drop in violent crimes that he said the 10-year-old ballot measure helped to bring about.

Coincidentally, Doell also visited Bend on the day that an 18-year-old was shot and killed on a footbridge over Mirror Pond, the second killing in the Drake Park area in less than six months. A 21-year-old man was arerested shortly afterward.

When asked by a reporter after the gathering about the street-racing case, Doell said he indeed had followed the proceedings which ended with Deschutes County Circuit Judge Stephen Tiktin saying that Measure 11 gave him no choice but to sentence Black, 20, to the prison time.

“I would not be imposing this sentence on you today, were it not for Ballot Measure 11,” Tiktin said at the sentencing late last month, after Black’s family staged a petition drive and other public efforts to head off a sentence that they said would ruin the young man’s life (www.bend.com/AR-17633).

But Doell noted, “You know that this young man had four opportunities – count ‘em, four – to take a plea bargain” to a lesser charge. “It’s the same thing that’s found in every criminal’s mind and thoughts – minimalization and denial. This is a kid who didn’t want to step up and take responsibility and culpability. If he had, maybe he would have faced 18 months, instead of six years.”

“Judge Tiktin, to his credit, found him guilty” of manslaughter, Doell said. “He could have found him guilty of criminally negligent homicide, but you know what? He didn’t.”

Doell recalled another Bend case, of a young man, Brian Hood, who was with a drunken friend who went four-wheeling in Drake Park in 1998 and the vehicle overturned, killing Hood. The driver was convicted of criminally negligent homicide, but received a 13-month prison term. Last year, Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed “Brian’s Bill,” Doell said, which raises the presumptive sentence for criminally negligent homicide involving DUII, from 18 to 36 months.

“We always hear this hue and cry for the criminals – where’s the hue and cry for the victim?” said Doell, who became involved in the victims’ rights cause after his 12-year-old daughter, Lisa, was struck and killed on a Lake Oswego street by a 16-year-old driver who had admitted doing it on purpose and was charged with murder, but ended up getting a manslaughter conviction and sentence of just 28 months.

The Black case also has brought claims from family members that District Attorney Mike Dugan uses Measure 11 sentencing guidelines to force or coerce those who profess innocence into offering guilty pleas on lesser charges. As you might expect, Doell doesn't buy that, either.

“That’s just nonsense,” he said. “There’s been literally thousands of Measure 11 cases” over the decade, and none have been successfully appealed, Doell claimed, although he recalled one case in which his group helped convince the governor to commute a sentence.

But in the Black case, Doell said, “This DA charged that case correctly.”

He also said the tragic incident shows that Central Oregon needs to do what Portland has done, to prevent such street-racing tragedies – provide a alternative where it’s safe for race competitors to do their thing: “Take them off the street and give them a place to drag-race.”

Stats show Measure 11 works, backer says

The Black case and Tiktin’s remarks stand in stark contrast to what Doell told the Rotary he heard another judge tell his daughter’s killer: “I’d like to give you a longer sentence, but I can’t,” due to the sentencing guidelines.

In a presentation that he’s given to newspaper editorial boards around the state, Doell said Oregon has seen the nation’s steepest decline in violent crimes – robbery, aggravated assault, forcible rape and non-negligent homicide – since Measure 11 set mandatory minimum sentences in nearly two-dozen of the most serious crimes. One of his charts showed a 44 percent drop in those crimes, between 1995 and 2002.

Contrary to what some believe, Measure 11 “does not cover drug crimes,” he said. “It does not cover property crimes. Only first- and second-degree, person-to-person crimes.”

And two subsequent pieces of legislation, in 1997 and 2001, allowed judges to make exceptions in eight of those covered crimes, if there is a lack of prior serious felony convictions, the victim did not suffer significant physical injury, and the perpetrator didn’t use a deadly weapon.

The mandatory sentences range from five years and 10 months, for crimes such as compelling prostitution, to 25 years for murder – no other Measure 11 crime mandates a sentence of more than 10 years. About 5,000 people had been convicted of Measure 11 crimes, as of August, and 44 percent were sex offenders, while 23 percent involved robbery, about 13 percent assaults, 6 percent for manslaughter and under 4 percent for murder.

And mandatory minimums don’t take away judge’s discretion to impose a harsher term, through consecutive sentences, such as a case where a molester of several boys was given a 103-year prison sentence, Doell said: “There is discretion under Measure 11.”

“I’m not going to stand here and say Measure 11 is the only reason the crime rate has dropped,” Doell told the group, “but it has had a significant impact.” The nation’s violent crime rate also has fallen significantly since the early ‘90s, but Doell noted that 33 states have increased sentences for violent criminals. He also said “Three Strikes, You’re Out” law in other states – where a third felony conviction brings a mandatory life term – is “much more draconian than Measure 11.”

Along with incapacitating the worst criminals, and deterring others, Doell said Measure 11 also removes “ringleaders” from their criminal enterprises. He spoke of a case in which a killer was released in 2003 and was involved in a gruesome Portland-area killing, where a woman was lit on fire. If sentenced under Measure 11, he said, the man would have been in prison until 2017, and the woman might still be alive.

“This isn’t the noblest thing we do in this country, locking people up,” Doell said. “But it is necessary.”

Another graph Doell displayed showed that, if one compares the actual, declining violent crime rate to a continuation of the 1995 level, Oregonians were spared on the order of 34,000 murders, manslaughters, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults.

He also said critics’ claims that the state spends more to lock people up than on education are “flat wrong.” He showed a figure of almost $10 billion in taxpayer spending on Oregon schools during the 2003-05 biennium, compared to about $965 million on prisons and just $189 million on what he’s computed as Measure 11’s share of that cost.

“I’m not against education,” Doell said. “But the fundamental duty of government – let’s never forget it – is to protect society, and preserve public safety.”

He pegged the cost of Measure 11 at $27 a year for each Oregonian, and urged listeners to go home, look at their family and decide if it’s worth $27 for each loved one to keep murderers, rapists and other violent criminals off the street.

But all’s not well, Doell agreed: “While we’ve been driving down the violent crime rate, the property crime rate has been going off the charts. That’s because we don’t incapacitate the perpetrators.”

A member of the audience who said he was on the Oregon Corrections Board 20 years ago noted that at the time, a third of those behind bars in Oregon were there for non-violent crimes. Doell said that’s changed, with roughly 9 percent locked up for drug and behavioral crimes, and 22 percent for property crimes. “The vast majority today are in there for violent crimes,” he said.

Doell told another questioner that his 21-year-old group has “a lot of opponents. The criminal defense lawyers, they hate us – that’s okay, they’re just doing their jobs – and the ACLU.” But Doell pointed out that two-thirds of Oregon voters approved Measure 11, and the defeat in 2000 of Measure 94, which would have repealed the initiative, was even higher at 74 percent.

He said recent polling has found that more than three-fourths of those surveyed don’t want criminals who were convicted under Measure 11 to earn “good time” toward early release, or get to participate in prison programs – and that 68 percent of those who identified themselves as liberal were on that side of the issue, as well.
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Old 09-23-2004, 01:40 PM
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Default Black case/Bend Oregon

or get to participate in prison programs – and that 68 percent of those who identified themselves as liberal were on that side of the issue, as well.
I am very torn about this case. I do realize that Black had several chances to take a plea. I guess I am feeling heavy in my heart for his parents/ mother especially. I have been trying to find out how to get in touch with his mother to offer her encouragement and support, maybe call his lawyers office and leave my information.
Anyway, if I am understanding Steve Doell's posting, Measure 11 people are not eligible for any of the educational programs when they are incarcerated. Surely I am misunderstanding. Can anyone enlighten me please.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JJT
Measure 11 defender weighs in on Black case


Steve Doell says stats show law helped cut violent crime

By Barney Lerten
Bend.com
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 11:50 AM
Reference Code: AR-18105

September 21 - The head of a crime victims’ group that has championed Measure 11’s mandatory sentencing law against often heated opposition said Tuesday that a recent, controversial decision which sent a young Bend man to prison for 6-plus years shows the measure's strengths, not its flaws.

The case of David Black, convicted of manslaughter in the August 2003 street-racing death of a 15-year-old girl, did not come up in questions posed to Steve Doell, president of Crime Victims United (www.crimevictimsunited.org), after he spoke to the Rotary Club of Greater Bend, using charts and tables to show a drop in violent crimes that he said the 10-year-old ballot measure helped to bring about.

Coincidentally, Doell also visited Bend on the day that an 18-year-old was shot and killed on a footbridge over Mirror Pond, the second killing in the Drake Park area in less than six months. A 21-year-old man was arerested shortly afterward.

When asked by a reporter after the gathering about the street-racing case, Doell said he indeed had followed the proceedings which ended with Deschutes County Circuit Judge Stephen Tiktin saying that Measure 11 gave him no choice but to sentence Black, 20, to the prison time.

“I would not be imposing this sentence on you today, were it not for Ballot Measure 11,” Tiktin said at the sentencing late last month, after Black’s family staged a petition drive and other public efforts to head off a sentence that they said would ruin the young man’s life (www.bend.com/AR-17633).

But Doell noted, “You know that this young man had four opportunities – count ‘em, four – to take a plea bargain” to a lesser charge. “It’s the same thing that’s found in every criminal’s mind and thoughts – minimalization and denial. This is a kid who didn’t want to step up and take responsibility and culpability. If he had, maybe he would have faced 18 months, instead of six years.”

“Judge Tiktin, to his credit, found him guilty” of manslaughter, Doell said. “He could have found him guilty of criminally negligent homicide, but you know what? He didn’t.”

Doell recalled another Bend case, of a young man, Brian Hood, who was with a drunken friend who went four-wheeling in Drake Park in 1998 and the vehicle overturned, killing Hood. The driver was convicted of criminally negligent homicide, but received a 13-month prison term. Last year, Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed “Brian’s Bill,” Doell said, which raises the presumptive sentence for criminally negligent homicide involving DUII, from 18 to 36 months.

“We always hear this hue and cry for the criminals – where’s the hue and cry for the victim?” said Doell, who became involved in the victims’ rights cause after his 12-year-old daughter, Lisa, was struck and killed on a Lake Oswego street by a 16-year-old driver who had admitted doing it on purpose and was charged with murder, but ended up getting a manslaughter conviction and sentence of just 28 months.

The Black case also has brought claims from family members that District Attorney Mike Dugan uses Measure 11 sentencing guidelines to force or coerce those who profess innocence into offering guilty pleas on lesser charges. As you might expect, Doell doesn't buy that, either.

“That’s just nonsense,” he said. “There’s been literally thousands of Measure 11 cases” over the decade, and none have been successfully appealed, Doell claimed, although he recalled one case in which his group helped convince the governor to commute a sentence.

But in the Black case, Doell said, “This DA charged that case correctly.”

He also said the tragic incident shows that Central Oregon needs to do what Portland has done, to prevent such street-racing tragedies – provide a alternative where it’s safe for race competitors to do their thing: “Take them off the street and give them a place to drag-race.”

Stats show Measure 11 works, backer says

The Black case and Tiktin’s remarks stand in stark contrast to what Doell told the Rotary he heard another judge tell his daughter’s killer: “I’d like to give you a longer sentence, but I can’t,” due to the sentencing guidelines.

In a presentation that he’s given to newspaper editorial boards around the state, Doell said Oregon has seen the nation’s steepest decline in violent crimes – robbery, aggravated assault, forcible rape and non-negligent homicide – since Measure 11 set mandatory minimum sentences in nearly two-dozen of the most serious crimes. One of his charts showed a 44 percent drop in those crimes, between 1995 and 2002.

Contrary to what some believe, Measure 11 “does not cover drug crimes,” he said. “It does not cover property crimes. Only first- and second-degree, person-to-person crimes.”

And two subsequent pieces of legislation, in 1997 and 2001, allowed judges to make exceptions in eight of those covered crimes, if there is a lack of prior serious felony convictions, the victim did not suffer significant physical injury, and the perpetrator didn’t use a deadly weapon.

The mandatory sentences range from five years and 10 months, for crimes such as compelling prostitution, to 25 years for murder – no other Measure 11 crime mandates a sentence of more than 10 years. About 5,000 people had been convicted of Measure 11 crimes, as of August, and 44 percent were sex offenders, while 23 percent involved robbery, about 13 percent assaults, 6 percent for manslaughter and under 4 percent for murder.

And mandatory minimums don’t take away judge’s discretion to impose a harsher term, through consecutive sentences, such as a case where a molester of several boys was given a 103-year prison sentence, Doell said: “There is discretion under Measure 11.”

“I’m not going to stand here and say Measure 11 is the only reason the crime rate has dropped,” Doell told the group, “but it has had a significant impact.” The nation’s violent crime rate also has fallen significantly since the early ‘90s, but Doell noted that 33 states have increased sentences for violent criminals. He also said “Three Strikes, You’re Out” law in other states – where a third felony conviction brings a mandatory life term – is “much more draconian than Measure 11.”

Along with incapacitating the worst criminals, and deterring others, Doell said Measure 11 also removes “ringleaders” from their criminal enterprises. He spoke of a case in which a killer was released in 2003 and was involved in a gruesome Portland-area killing, where a woman was lit on fire. If sentenced under Measure 11, he said, the man would have been in prison until 2017, and the woman might still be alive.

“This isn’t the noblest thing we do in this country, locking people up,” Doell said. “But it is necessary.”

Another graph Doell displayed showed that, if one compares the actual, declining violent crime rate to a continuation of the 1995 level, Oregonians were spared on the order of 34,000 murders, manslaughters, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults.

He also said critics’ claims that the state spends more to lock people up than on education are “flat wrong.” He showed a figure of almost $10 billion in taxpayer spending on Oregon schools during the 2003-05 biennium, compared to about $965 million on prisons and just $189 million on what he’s computed as Measure 11’s share of that cost.

“I’m not against education,” Doell said. “But the fundamental duty of government – let’s never forget it – is to protect society, and preserve public safety.”

He pegged the cost of Measure 11 at $27 a year for each Oregonian, and urged listeners to go home, look at their family and decide if it’s worth $27 for each loved one to keep murderers, rapists and other violent criminals off the street.

But all’s not well, Doell agreed: “While we’ve been driving down the violent crime rate, the property crime rate has been going off the charts. That’s because we don’t incapacitate the perpetrators.”

A member of the audience who said he was on the Oregon Corrections Board 20 years ago noted that at the time, a third of those behind bars in Oregon were there for non-violent crimes. Doell said that’s changed, with roughly 9 percent locked up for drug and behavioral crimes, and 22 percent for property crimes. “The vast majority today are in there for violent crimes,” he said.

Doell told another questioner that his 21-year-old group has “a lot of opponents. The criminal defense lawyers, they hate us – that’s okay, they’re just doing their jobs – and the ACLU.” But Doell pointed out that two-thirds of Oregon voters approved Measure 11, and the defeat in 2000 of Measure 94, which would have repealed the initiative, was even higher at 74 percent.

He said recent polling has found that more than three-fourths of those surveyed don’t want criminals who were convicted under Measure 11 to earn “good time” toward early release, or get to participate in prison programs – and that 68 percent of those who identified themselves as liberal were on that side of the issue, as well.
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