In Advocating for Inmates, Let's Not Forget about the Crime

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), July 4, 2010 | Go to article overview

In Advocating for Inmates, Let's Not Forget about the Crime


Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Joshua Marquis

The family members of criminals often pay a greater price than the people who molested, stole, assaulted or even murdered. They don't deserve to be punished, but it is a classic line that the judge or prosecutor should go easier on the criminal because of how it might affect their family.

Bob Welch's June 27 article ("Hard time") paints Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants as a group of isolated outcasts with little sympathy and less support.

What strikes me is the plethora of groups like CURE. They include the extremely well-funded Partnership for Safety and Justice, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Better People (which launched state Sen. Chip Shields' political career as an advocate for inmates and their families), and Sponsors Inc. of Eugene, which has been around a very long time.

I don't begrudge these organizations, but to claim that they are shivering on a metaphorical ice floe is not accurate. And, unlike the few victims' support groups - including Crime Victims United - these groups are well-funded by deep pockets such as George Soro's Open Society Institute. By contrast, the victims' groups operate on a wing and a prayer.

Welch points out that, "Among other things, the Oregon chapter works with the Oregon Department of Corrections on intake and release orientation." The official position of the DOC is to do everything possible to help inmates' families and to assist in the eventual transition of most inmates back into society. Otherwise, unless the inmate is doing life without parole - a sentence that can be imposed only for aggravated murder - he will walk among us again, probably sooner rather than later. And remember: The Legislature increased earned time up to 30 percent in the last session.

This paragraph by Welch hit me the hardest:

"They talk about the logistics of visiting a family member in a correctional facility. The perceived unfairness of Measure 11 - the voter-approved law that requires minimum mandatory sentences for certain felonies .. …

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