What's happening in the Legislator?
2017 Legislative committee report for early June
We have been following 17 Senate bills, seven of which grew out of a reentry task force and will be dealt with separately. We have been following 13 House bills, three of which are pushed by PSJ and will be deal with separately.
Senate Bills (10)
The three most consequential bills are SB 496, SB 505, and SB 1050. All have DO PASS
recommendations from the Senate Judiciary and all have been referred to Ways and Means. The first two are bills that would require recording of grand jury proceedings. We have been asked by OCDLA to stand aside on these, lest our presence muddy the waters. We are doing that, but we continue to follow them because they are very important for us.
The latter one is Sen. Courtney’s latest attempt to institute life sentences for certain sex crimes. This is the most restrained version so far; instead of mandatory life sentences, it calls for presumptive life sentences without probation or parole for repeat offenses of Rape 1, Sodomy 1, or Sexual Penetration 1. We have looked at the impact, and it appears that it will only apply to a very small number of cases, and thus will have a negligible effect on prison populations, making effective arguments against it much harder.
All of these will be subject to the hard budget negotiations that will come late in the session.
House Bills (10) The three most important bills are HB 2249, HB 2360, and HB 2633.
HB 2249 funds a support program for youth under 25 in reentry. It passed both houses and has been signed by the governor.
HB 2360 makes a change in requirements for registration of change of address that will particularly have an adverse effect on homeless registrants. The House version has been modified by the Senate. We are trying to sort out the implications of the change, and will continue to follow it closely.
HB 2633 establishes some controls on who may perform sex offender treatment. It passed the House and it has had a work session in the Senate Judiciary. It is not all we would wish, but it is an improvement on the current situation.
Senate Reentry Bills (7): Four of these have DO PASS recommendations and are in Ways and Means competing for funding. The other three are in the House and look like they have good chances. The big news is that none of them exclude people on the registry as such bills have tended to do in the past.
House PSJ Bills (3): All three of these seem to have a chance to move forward, and all represent steps toward restorative justice principles, though none deal specifically with registry people.
We have had some disappointments—especially the failure of the Sex Abuse 1 reform to get out of committee. We also have ongoing concerns about the Courtney bill and the effect of HB 2360 on homeless registrants. But many things in this session are encouraging. The legislature is increasingly committing to justice reinvestment principles, and there is more interest in evidence-based legislation.
Projected Changes in Oregon's Sex Offender Registry
In 2013, the Oregon legislature passed HB2549. The bill was designed to more Oregon toward a risk-based system of managing its registry, and specifically to offer a route off the registry for low-risk former offenders. The bill sets up three levels of risk: low, moderate, and high, and everyone on the registry is to be placed in one of these three categories through the use of an actuarial instrument. For adult males, the instrument is the STATIC-99R. Women and juveniles will be assessed using the Level of Services/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI).
Scoring using the STATIC-99R has already begun and will be ongoing until the entire registry has been scored. Registrants classified as low risk will eventually be able to apply to be removed from the registry. Registrants classified as moderate or high will eventually be able to apply to be reclassified at a lower level after a period of time.
The projected phase-in date for the new program was scheduled for Jan. 1, 2019, but it now appears that it will be later than that. Oregon Voices members are actively participating in the planning and phase-in part of this process to ensure that the concerns and rights of registered citizens are addressed.
The fullest available explanation of the new system currently available is probably the one on the Parole Board Website: http://www.oregon.gov/BOPPPS/Pages/sonl.aspx
NATIONAL LEGISLATION TO PAY ATTENTION TO:
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) of 2007 is a badly written and cost-ineffective piece of federal legislation. SORNA , aka "Adam Walsh Act" was enacted at the federal level with the intention to "provide[s] a new comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in the United States." SORNA mandates frequent, in-person registration for former offenders many of whom committed offenses long ago, and have proven they constitute little or no risk. Some counties and states have interpreted this to include reclassification of registered citizens when they move from one state to another seeking employment or a change in their life. SORNA also mandates lengthy mandatory state prison sentences for a myriad of minor technical violations of SORNA.
In March 2016 a bill was introduced in Congress: "S.2613 - Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016" and passed the Senate in May 2016. That bill, which was sold to Congress as a way to add funding and criteria that benefited victims of sexual assault, also increased the amount of funding for enforcement of more rigorous registries and restrictions.
SORNA has never been enacted in Oregon. In some states, the money that the federal government provides for complying with SORNA has been touted as a justification for implementing SORNA. Since SORNA is a federal bill, the Oregon state legislature has to vote on whether or not to put it in place in Oregon. The method of enforcement of these laws have not been effective in the states where SORNA is the current practice. The most current studies in Michigan and Connecticut from 2010 show that keeping someone incarcerated does not promote public safety.
However, SORNA, as federal law, promoted by the Department of Justice, does require constant monitoring of the Oregon legislative sessions to prevent overturning Oregon's previous decision to not implement or insertion of offensive pieces of the legislation into other bills.
We will be providing updates on this page as SORNA continues to be challenged across the nation, and any relevant court decisions that affect it's mandates.
If you would like to work on the Oregon Voices Legislative Committee, please contact us at 971-317-6868.