criminal justice

"Innocent until proven guilty" is the law of the land.  But there's a reason to keep that statement in quotes. 

Society at large has a tendency to assume some degree of guilt whenever a person is arrested. 

Mark Godsey spent his career working to put guilty people behind bars, and seriously doubting that any innocent people ended up there.  Then he reluctantly ran the Kentucky Innocence Project.  It changed his life. 

Godsey writes about what he has learned in Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions

Scott Sanchez/Wikimedia

Josephine County's longstanding issues with public safety funding emerge unchanged from yet another election cycle. 

County voters rejected the latest version of a property tax levy that would have provided funding for sheriff's deputies, jail beds, and prosecutors.  Measure 17-74, like every public safety levy before it, went down to defeat.  In the first rounds of returns, the No votes led the Yes votes, 61 to 39 percent.

Josephine County is one of many Western Oregon counties that depended heavily on timber receipts from federal land to fill its general fund.  With little logging, the revenues crashed, and the county's property tax rate is too low to make up the difference.  Sheriff's patrols have been reduced to a few hours a day, with Oregon State Police picking up some of the criminal justice slack.  The levy loss ensures a continuation of that arrangement.

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The words "jail" and "prison" are often used interchangeably, and incorrectly so. 

Prison is supposed to be the place where people go upon conviction; jail is where people awaiting trial are held, if they represent a threat or a flight risk. 

But the lines have blurred, especially as both Oregon and California have taken to using jail for convicts, to keep the state prison populations under control. 

And the Vera Institute of Justice questions how many people in jail are really either threats or flight risks. 

VENTSday: Criminal Justice & Reform

Aug 2, 2016
Josh Estey/AusAID

The number of people serving prison time in America--2.2 Million--can be abstract. 

So let's make it more concrete: that's more than the population of 15 states.  Criminal justice reform is becoming attractive to politicians of many stripes, and you can air your thoughts on reform on VENTSday this week. 

VENTSday removes the guests and puts listener comments front and center on The Exchange. Once a week, it's all about you... we plop a topic on the table, post a survey on our Facebook page (and below), and open the phone lines and email box for live comments.

The topics can range from presidential politics to how you spend your days off. Got an observation or opinion? Share it with the State of Jefferson on VENTSday. Join by phone at 800-838-3760, email JX@jeffnet.org, or take the survey online.

How California Compensates Crime Victims

Apr 5, 2016
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It is National Crime Victims' Rights Week next week (April 10-16), providing a chance to catch up on what society does for the victims of crimes. Reports by JPR's Emily Cureton about domestic violence in far Northern California found that violent crime victims there are getting much less support than previously.

This may be an outreach problem, not a budget one, since California provides a stable Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) to give money to the victims of some violent crimes. 

Claims range from medical payments to home security installations. 

Josh Estey/AusAID

It’s been a dramatic few years for California’s criminal justice system — voters and lawmakers have approved a slew of changes since 2011, including measures that softened the state’s harsh three strikes law andshrunk penalties for nonviolent crimes.

Now, advocates pushing those types of reforms are hoping that recent comments by Gov. Jerry Brown have opened the door to even more sweeping changes.