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From the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance

Discussion in 'United States' started by Kimster, Apr 30, 2015.

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  1. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member

    These are rec'd by request from the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance via email. I'll post updates here.

    I ntroduction by Doug Harcleroad
    Senior Policy Advisor

    Steve Doell is the longtime President of Crime Victims United of Oregon. He is a national award winner for his work with individual crime victims and for his undying work to improve the rights of crime victims in Oregon. He recently wrote the below opinion article for the Oregonian and it is reprinted here with the express permission of Mr. Doell.

    By Steve Doell

    No one following local news recently could have missed the shocking story of 17-year-old criminal predator Jaime Tinoco. Formally adjudicated (the juvenile equivalent of adult conviction) last summer of burglary and harassment in Washington County juvenile court, he was assessed by the juvenile department of that county as a low risk to reoffend, based on a risk assessment questionnaire that is used throughout the state. That evaluation led to a low-key probation that resulted in Tinoco's savage rape of a 39-year-old woman in Eugene after he walked away from a juvenile department field trip to a Ducks football game. Now Tinoco has been indicted for the brutal stabbing murder of 29-year-old mother-of-four Nicole Laube in another vicious attempted sexual assault in Washington County -- also while being "supervised" on juvenile probation.

    It may be hard to get past the pain, anger and tears produced by these predatory crimes, and it is unlikely that the rape victim, her family and the surviving family members of the murder victim will ever do so.

    But behind the grim headlines lies a bigger story. Oregon today has established itself as the national leader in "juvenile justice reform." Employing policies developed by East Coast anti-incarceration interest groups like the Annie E. Casey Foundation, our state casts itself as the future of cutting-edge juvenile justice policy. At taxpayer expense, Multnomah County juvenile authorities have even established their own juvenile justice reform institute, inviting authorities from around the nation to attend classes to promote our state's vision of juvenile justice reform.

    The "reforms" advocated by the leaders of this movement, never advertised to the public at large, would leave most reasonable people at a loss for words.

    The use of risk assessment tools, like the one that led to Tinoco's lax supervision and brutal crimes, is a case in point. Juvenile authorities throughout Oregon use a standardized questionnaire designed to predict an offender's future risk. The process is designed to replace the judgment of juvenile authorities such as judges and probation officers with a score generated by a risk assessment evaluation. The questionnaire, however, is dependent on the inherent truthfulness of the juvenile offender, a proposition that by itself should raise eyebrows when it involves criminal conduct.

    Scientific validity tests show the predictive ability of the risk assessment tool used to evaluate Tinoco is only 70 percent, considered "poor to fair" in statistical terms. In layman's terms, juvenile authorities in Washington County decided to design Tinoco's level of supervision on a tool that is wrong in predicting future dangerousness in three cases out of 10. As late as April 1, the Washington County Juvenile Department continued to attempt to absolve itself from blame by pointing to its use of risk evaluations that, "regrettably," are not perfect.

    That must be cold comfort to the families of Tinoco's victims.

    The treatment of Tinoco by the Washington County Juvenile Department is only a single example of a statewide juvenile policy that has run off the rails, and one that has been carefully hidden from the public. In Multnomah County, for instance, the use of the same risk assessment tool has led local authorities to quietly dismiss almost 60 percent of all juvenile criminal cases on the day they are submitted by police. The emerging theory is that the best response to a juvenile crime is usually to take no action at all. Unlike our juvenile authorities, however, it would be hard to find a parent who believes that serious antisocial conduct such as crime should be ignored in 60 percent of cases.

    And how have these brave new policies worked? In contrast to our adult system, which boasts some of the nation's lowest crime rates, Oregon's juvenile crime rates are among the highest in America. Perhaps it's time to conduct an open discussion with Oregonians about these policies.

    Steve Doell is president of Crime Victims United of Oregon. His 12-year-old daughter, Lisa, was murdered in 1992 by a juvenile who was a stranger to her in Lake Oswego.

  2. Kimster

    Kimster Director Staff Member


    By: Doug Harcleroad

    Senior Policy Advisor

    From the December 18, 2013, Chronicles:
    A person is convicted of felony assault for using a baseball bat to seriously injure someone. The offender goes to prison. A person is convicted of multiple felony car thefts. The offender goes to prison. When the assaulter and the car thief get out of prison, over time - say one or two years - they commit a series of misdemeanors such as assault, shoplifting, menacing another person, and drunken driving. They are convicted of these crimes. Most everyone would say these two offenders are recidivists because they committed additional crimes. It is only common sense. However, the old Oregon definition of recidivism has been so limited in the past that the assaulter and the car thief would not be labeled recidivists. Here is the old Oregon definition from the Department of Corrections web site:
    “Conviction on (sic) a new felony within three years of beginning supervision (probation or post-prison supervision) is the definition of recidivism in Oregon
    Oregon's old definition excludes so much criminal activity that it is not very useful, although it makes the statistics look pretty good. Only convictions of a new felony are included - not new arrests or misdemeanor convictions - and only if the conviction actually happens within three years.

    Upon the recommendation of the 2012 Governor’s Commission on Public Safety, which adopted Commission member John Foote’s idea to broaden the definition, the 2013 Oregon legislature adopted a new definition of recidivism. It is found in Section 45 of House Bill 3194.
    Basically, the new law redefines “recidivism” to align the definition with federal standards set out in Bureau of Justice Statistics Reports. It is in two parts. The first definition is any arrest or incarceration for a new crime, or any new conviction of any crime, within three years of conviction of an initial crime or release from custody for that crime. The second definition adds any new incarceration or arrest for any reason to the first definition.”
    In short, the new definition of recidivism expands the old definition to include arrests for crimes and convictions for misdemeanors. Oregon now has a common sense definition that tracks with the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
    Not surprising to criminal justice practitioners, recidivism is up under the new broader definition of recidivism. Here are the summary numbers straight from the Criminal Justice Commission report.

    “This analysis shows the current statewide rates of recidivism:

    For those released from prison or from a felony jail sentence in the first six months of 2011:

    • 16% were re-incarcerated for a new felony crime within three years of release, (The old definition.)
    • 39% were convicted of a new misdemeanor or felony crime within three years of release, and
    • 52% were arrested for a new crime within three years of release. (The new definition)
    For those who started a felony probation sentence in the first six months of 2011:

    • 12% were incarcerated for a new felony crime within three years,(The old definition)
    • 40% were convicted of a new misdemeanor or felony crime within three years, and
    • 46% were arrested for a new crime within three years.” (The new definition)


    1. Implementing the new and broader definition of recidivism required the Criminal Justice Commission to “merge” various data bases from the Department of Corrections, the Oregon Judicial Department, and the Oregon State Police. This was no small task but having a better definition of recidivism is worth it.

    2. This analysis does not include Federal or out-of-state data. This is a data gathering limitation in the analysis that understates the recidivism rates. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Study titled, “Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010,” “An estimated 10.9% of released prisoners were arrested in a state other than the one that released them during the five-year follow-up period. This suggests that the new Oregon recidivism numbers for arrests are understated by about 10%, as the out-of-state arrests are not included in the Oregon numbers due to data gathering limitations.

    3. When one compares the Criminal Justice Commission analysis of Oregon recidivism rates against the 30-state recidivism study done by the Federal government, the results seem to be somewhat similar. Oregon’s arrest rate after 3 years is a little lower than the 30-state study, but they are both over 50%.

    4. So, what do these high recidivism rates in Oregon and across the country mean? Here are three thoughts.

    • Changing offenders’ behavior so they don’t commit new crimes is difficult to do.

    • The use of “evidence-based decision making” with corrections programs may not be a high enough standard for evaluating offender programing. To ensure this programing works, more randomized controlled trials should be implemented. This comment is not a negative comment about parole and probation officers. These individuals work hard to help keep us all safe. It just means we need to study/prove what works to change offenders’ behavior if we expect to lower the recidivism rates.

    • Mike Schmidt, the new Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Commission, wrote in the Forward to the Oregon Recidivism study, “”Ultimately, we study recidivism so we can determine if the interventions that we are deploying throughout the state are successful in keeping offenders from returning to criminal behavior.” I agree with him and would add that study needs to be intensified, and the money spent on the evaluation process must be increased.

    • Knowing that Oregon has high recidivism rate, whether measured by new arrests (50%) or new convictions (40%) over 3 years, the Oregon legislature must invest in proven community programs to keep offenders from committing new crimes. If the legislature does not invest in community programs, they will be forced to open or build new prisons - a very expensive process.
    daisy7 likes this.
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