Now Playing: The important ballot measures to remember in Oregon 2008
Topic: CIVIL RIGHTS
Vote NO on Measure 61
Measure 61 would greatly expand the number of criminal defendants subject to mandatory minimums, this time for non-violent property and drug crimes. Under this measure, a sentence would have to be served in its entirety, and there would be no eligibility for reduction at any time during the sentence (good time credit).
ACLU opposes mandatory minimum prison sentences because they eliminate a judge’s ability to evaluate the facts of each case and consider the character and history of the defendant in determining the most appropriate sentence.
ACLU Opposes Measure 57, but…*
This measure requires judges to impose a minimum prison sentence, the length of which would depend only on the person’s criminal history. It would prohibit judges from ordering a lesser sentence which current law allows in exceptional situations based upon an individual’s particular circumstances. As a result, the new sentences are mandatory minimum sentences. They differ slightly from Oregon’s current mandatory minimum scheme in that Measure 57 would allow an inmate to receive credit for good behavior during incarceration.
Measure 57 also would increase access to drug treatment programs for those who are incarcerated or on post-prison supervision or probation. It would provide local counties with additional funding for drug courts, intensive supervision and jail beds to use as sanctions for those who fail to comply with conditions imposed by their treatment programs.
If Measure 57 receives more “yes” votes than Measure 61, it would supersede (and replace) Measure 61. (Likewise, if both measures receive a majority of votes cast, but this measure receives fewer “yes” votes than Measure 61, Measure 57 would not go into effect.)
* While in an ideal world we would hope that voters would reject both Measures 61 and 57, we are also well aware of current political realities in Oregon. Deciding how to vote on Measure 57 will be one of the most difficult decisions civil libertarians will face this year. Recommendation: The ACLU of Oregon Opposes Ballot Measure 57, but we urge ACLU members and supporters to be aware of its link to Ballot Measure 61 and make up your own minds.
Vote NO on Measure 58
Measure 58 would impose arbitrary limits on english language Instruction in public schools. The measure also runs the risk of being in conflict with federal equal education opportunity requirements and jeopardizing federal funding. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on “race, color or national origin.” This is part of an ongoing nationwide “English-only” effort. Measure 58 would eliminate local control by school boards, educators and families and replace it with a one-size-fits-all approach that would hurt students who are not able to become completely fluent in English within a relatively short period of time.
VOTE NO on Measure 64
Measure 64 would mandate that no “public resources” be used to collect or to help collect money used for “political purposes.” This would basically restrict political speech and association rights of public employees and non-profit organizations. The definition of “public resources” is very broad and would include the use of “public buildings.” Measure 64 would bar candidates and ballot measure-related events in those buildings while still allowing every other type of group to meet. That raises significant concerns under the Oregon and U.S. constitutions. In addition, Measure 64 would eliminate the ability of public employees to make decisions about their own payroll deductions including union dues and deductions made to non-profits who may speak out on ballot measures and legislative proposals.
Vote YES on Measure 56
Ballot Measure 56 would partially remove “double majority” requirement for property tax election. Currently, a property tax measure can be approved only if it has both a majority of “yes” votes and more than 50 percent of registered voters participate in the election (“double majority”). The ACLU of Oregon has always opposed the “double-majority” requirement because it runs counter to the principle of one-person/one-vote. Under the current requirement, a tax measure would fail even if it receives a large majority of “yes” votes if fewer than 50 percent of registered voters participate in the election. That means that the “votes” of people who refuse to vote would have greater weight than the votes of people who return their ballots. While Measure 56 would not repeal the “double-majority” requirement altogether, it is an improvement.