A view of the Cascade Mountains from the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
  Photos by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

Issues

Alternative Report and Recommendations

The Oregon Association Chiefs of Police and the Oregon State Sheriff's Association forward to the Legislature the Alternative Report and Recommendations to the Governor’s 2012 Commission on Public Safety written by Commission member and District Attorney, John Foote, on behalf of the Oregon District Attorneys Association.

September 29, 2011 - Prison Population Forecast

Governor Kitzhaber’s seven-member Public Safety Commission meets today in Salem for the first of four statewide meetings on comprehensive sentencing reform. The October prison population forecast is due to be released today, as well. One area of review is the growth in prison population from 1995-2011. This is particularly important because the costs of incarceration are significant.

The Commission’s work plan recommends any reform be based on “fiscally responsible data driven policies and practices.” Prosecutors rely on evidence. Evidence-based data is crucial to making good policy choices. The District Attorneys have compared the historical projections to actual prison populations and found that the forecasted populations, on average, range from being high by just under 1% in the first year of the projection to 5% in year 5 to 12% over actual populations in year 10. These overages seem small as a percentage, but they result in predictions which are high by numbers that amount to entire prisons. For example, on average, the year 5 projections equate to 716 inmates more than the actual population. Year Ten is off by 1,692 inmates, the size of the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, or three 500-bed prisons.

Cost appears to be an important consideration of the Commission and the Legislature in determining how long sentences should be. Projecting prison populations is an inexact science and should not be the grounding factor to change public safety policy. The Commission should be cautious in its reliance on historically inexact or inflated data.

Contact:

Daniel O. Norris
Malheur Co. District Attorney
541-473-5127

Prison Population Data:

Other Resources: