Public Safety in Oregon

Oregon’s comprehensive 2013 sentencing and corrections reform, H.B. 3194, prioritizes limited prison space for violent and career offenders and reinvests corrections savings into law enforcement and local, evidence-based programs to reduce recidivism. Just one year after the reforms, Oregon’s prison population has stabilized, which is projected to save $17 million in the 2013–15 biennium. Over 10 years, the reform package is expected to continue to curb prison growth, eliminating the need for approximately 870 prison beds and saving taxpayers $326 million. The legislative effort stemmed from the bipartisan, interbranch Oregon Commission on Public Safety, which worked with Pew and criminal justice stakeholders to assess the state’s corrections system and develop policy recommendations. 

We can no longer delay improvements to our corrections system here in Oregon. It’s time for us to re-examine which policies are working and fix those that are not providing a clear benefit to our public safety.
—then-Governor Jon Kitzhaber (D)

Before enactment of H.B. 3194, Oregon’s prison population was projected to grow by 2,000 inmates over 10 years. This growth—fueled mostly by nonviolent offenders—would have cost taxpayers an additional $600 million. At the same time, increased state spending on prisons was crowding out funding for local public safety programs with a record of preventing crime.