What state department's budget has grown 20 percent every two years for the past 14 years? The department of justice corrections, which runs our prisons.

Thanks to Measure 11, a mandatory minimum sentencing law that voters passed in 1994, prison populations have grown by 6,000 people. But is the tough on crime law that's cost us millions deterring the type of criminals it's supposed to? No, says a new state study reported in the Oregonian over the weekend:

Proponents said the measure would deter crime in part because "career criminals will learn that crime does not pay in Oregon."

The report, released Friday after a public-records request from The Oregonian, found that seven out of 10 people charged with Measure 11 crimes had never before been convicted of a serious crime.

The local Partnership for Safety and Justice wrote about another troubling phenomena recently: Compared to three other states that have seen crime drops after mandatory minimum sentencing laws passed, Oregon incarceration rates are way higher.


Maybe as we're slashing budgets for schools and health care, it's time to take a look at prison sentencing.