Editorial: Revised prison forecast is good news

The state of Oregon’s latest prison population forecast is a blast of good news, a clear signal that the state’s efforts to stem the unsustainable growth in our correctional system might be starting to bear fruit.

The latest forecast, released this week, suggests that Oregon’s prison population will drop by more than 500 inmates over the next two years.

That’s a sharp contrast from the forecast of six months ago, which projected continued steady growth in the inmate population – although it did say that the rate of growth was beginning to slow.

Well, that was a snippet of good news – but the prospect of continually steering more money into the Department of Corrections, at the expense of other vital programs such as community-based corrections, wasn’t promising.

All the more reason to cheer the remarkable turnaround chronicled in this week’s forecast.

The biggest factor behind the turnaround: The package of reforms approved by the 2013 Legislature, including a reduction in sentences for certain drug and property crimes. The key bill in the package, House Bill 3194, also lowers penalties for some driving with a suspended license and marijuana-related charges.

It’s worth noting that Albany Rep. Andy Olson, a Republican, was a key player in getting the Legislature to sign off on these changes…

Read more from the Albany Democrat-Herald…

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