Measure 112 passing despite State Sheriff’s Association opposition

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore.– Measure 112 is passing and would remove language that allows slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime, in Oregon’s constitution.

Measure 112 passed by around 5.5%, but not without opposition from the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association.

Multiple counties in Southern Oregon voted against the measure, including Jackson and Josephine Counties.

Sandy Chung, executive director for ACLU of Oregon said, “Oregonians have very firmly said, no one should be treated as a slave.”

Chung said the language in Oregon’s state constitution negatively impacted people who were incarcerated in the state.

“There were times when employees of the Oregon Department of Corrections would engage in harmful or negative types of conduct towards people who were incarcerated, and then would basically say ‘hey, you’re considered a slave by the Oregon state constitution,” she said.

Chung said the measure is one step towards addressing the issue of mass incarceration.

She said, “what I’m hearing from a lot of community members when we really have these conversations is no, it does not feel like we’re getting the positive returns to our communities, commensurate to the resources that are being put in.”

The Oregon State Sheriff’s Association opposed the measure, saying in the voters pamphlet:  “Oregon sheriffs cannot support measure 112 as drafted-it creates unintended consequences for Oregon jails that will result in the elimination of all reformative programs and increased costs to local jail operations.”

Chung said the ACLU was disappointed to see the Sheriff’s Association oppose Measure 112.

She feels the measure addressed many of the concerns the opposition had.

Chung said, “this is a ballot measure that was put on the ballot by democratic and republican leaders at the state level, and they specifically include a language saying that these types of restorative justice, community service-type programs would continue.”

Multiple Southern Oregon counties including Jackson and Josephine counties opposed Measure 112.

Chung said that it is likely that there was confusion amongst many voters about the measure.

Her experience is that many voters have a lack of understanding related to the prison system which likely led to many of the “no” votes on the measure.

She said that her organization worked to educate voters about the measure and they will continue educating Oregonians about the prison and criminal legal systems.

“A big part of the ACLU of Oregon’s work, we believe, is to really educate Oregonians about our prison system and mass incarceration, because there are some basic facts about the system that members of our communities and the public don’t know,” she said.

Chung said many people she talks to are surprised that the US has a higher rate of incarceration than China or Russia.

She said the ACLU will continue to work on educating the public on the resources that are put into the prison system.

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NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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