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Oregon Jails


Oregon is a scenic portion of the Pacific Northwest with a diverse landscape. The state boasts long stretches of Pacific coastline, scores of waterfalls, dense evergreen forests, and numerous volcanoes. Crater Lake is a major state attraction, due to its unique status as a caldera lake. Water collects from rain and snow in the caldera of a volcano, and because there are not inlets or outlets, the water is some of the clearest in the world.

Incarceration Rate
Oregon incarcerates about 373 per 100,000 residents, which is significantly lower than the national rate of 502. The state is ranked 30th in the nation for rate of imprisonment. Oregon has recently experienced a drop in crime rates to the lowest level in 40 years.

Mandatory Sentencing
Oregon implemented a controversial piece of legislation regarding sentencing requirements in 1994. Measure 11 requires a sentencing judge to give a non-negotiable minimum sentence for certain crimes. This Measure also ensures that the sentence cannot be decreased below this mandatory level through parole or good behavior.

Juveniles who commit the crimes addressed in Measure 11 must be tried as adults. Crimes affected by this measure include manslaughter, assault, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration, sexual abuse and robbery.

Proponents of Measure 11 argue that harsher, mandatory sentencing reduces crime, while opponents argue that judges should have discretion over sentencing while taking into consideration the circumstances on each individual case. Opponents also object to the requirement to try all juveniles as adults regarding these crimes. There have been multiple attempts to repeal Measure 11, but these measures have so far failed.

Marijuana Laws
In 1998, the Medical Marijuana Act was established by Oregon Ballot Measure 67. The law passed with 56.4% of the vote. This measure changed state law to allow the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana by prescription by patients who meet certain medical criteria. Oregon was the second state, behind California, to pass a law allowing for the medical use of marijuana.

Despite this law, for most residents in the state, the possession, cultivation or sale of Marijuana continues to be strictly illegal. To gain legal access to marijuana, an individual must work through a complicated process with their doctor to establish a medical need. Even with a medical marijuana card, there are very specific restrictions regarding how the substance can obtained and legal quantities for possession. A medical card does not make it legal for a person to drive under the influence of marijuana.

Right to Representation
If you are charged with any crime, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer. In the State of Oregon, if you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you have the right to have a public defender appointed to your case. To apply for a public defender, you will have to fill out some paperwork given to you by the court.

Based on your application, the judge will determine your ability to pay. If it is decided that you cannot afford to hire counsel, you will be appointed one. You might think you can represent yourself, but in any criminal matter it is unwise not to have an attorney with the training and expertise needed to protect you and your rights.