A recent juvenile justice reform bill excluded hundreds of people facing long prison sentences for crimes they committed before they turned 18. Gov. Kate Brown’s clemency order will allow some of them a second chance.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) commuted the sentences of dozens of people convicted of crimes they committed as kids this past week. The commutations of more than seventy people was a result of them being excluded from a 2019 juvenile justice reform bill (S.B. 1008) which sought to address the ways in which the state punishes people who commit crimes when they are kids. Theses commutations could mean the severe reduction of prison sentences by hundreds of years for many individuals who will now have the opportunity to petition the state’s Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision for release after 15 years in prison. Per the HuffPost article, “Brown instructed the board to consider each individual’s age and immaturity at the time of the crime and whether they have subsequently shown maturity and rehabilitation. The clemency order excludes individuals who are serving sentences for crimes they later committed as adults and those who have a release date of 2050 or later — although these individuals can still petition the governor for clemency.”
In a September letter to Oregon’s Department of Corrections, Governor Brown outlined her clemency plan in which she requested a list of names of people in its custody for crimes they committed as juveniles who were sentenced before S.B. 1008 went into effect and who met a set of criteria. “SB 1008 takes into account the fact that these youth are capable of tremendous transformation,” Brown wrote in the letter, highlighting the fact that many who commit crimes during their youth, go on to use their time while incarcerated to achieve college degrees and complete treatment programs while in youth custody before they even age into adult prison. “For these reasons, I have no doubt that the above-referenced list will be comprised of many individuals who have demonstrated exemplary progress and considerable evidence of rehabilitation, and who — unfairly — did not benefit from the effects of SB 1008.”