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Economic crisis in Multnomah Criminal Justice System

Discussion in 'Legal & Political Archive' started by Father of four, Oct 6, 2010.

  1. Father of four

    Father of four Portland, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Multnomah Co. prosecution suffers, mayor criticizes decisions | kgw.com | KGW Local News | Portland, Oregon

    PORTLAND, Ore. -- The economic crisis has delivered a blow to Multnomah County's criminal justice system. For the first time, the county cannot afford to prosecute dozens of illegal behaviors at a criminal level.

    Minor variations of offenses such as drug possession, hit-and-run and shoplifting will no longer carry the threat of jail time.

    In his 29 years as District Attorney, Mike Schrunk says he's never had to do this.

    The County's Board of Commissioners has cut his budget to the point where he has to redraw the line on what his department can and cannot afford to prosecute. Even those suspects resisting arrest will have no threat of jail time. It'll be like getting a speeding ticket.

    "In a perfect world would we do this? No," said Schrunk. "But we don't live in a perfect world."

    Portland Police Chief Mike Reese is telling his officers to forge ahead and make arrests as they always do. It'll be up to Schrunk, then, to review which cases are serious enough to afford prosecution.

    "If there isn't the capacity within the system to prosecute people and hold them accountable," said Reese, "it makes the entire system a failure and we're very concerned about it."

    "This is unacceptable," said Portland Mayor Sam Adams. "I think there are savings to be achieved." Adams says the County is missing an easy opportunity to cut its river patrol unit and shift that funding to Schrunk's prosecution efforts.

    The City, says Adams, has been offering to take over river duties for years.

    "The County needs to focus on its core services and prosecution is a core service," said Adams.



    Maybe this could have been avoided? What to do if and when it gets worse?
     
  2. trainsktg

    trainsktg Portland OR Well-Known Member

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    Multnomah Co. could pay for any amount of law enforcement it needed if it didn't waste so much taxpayer money on other BS. 'Eff 'em. Let the good people move out and let the place turn into a county wide cesspool.

    Keith
     
  3. Father of four

    Father of four Portland, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Here is something interesting I found.

    Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk warns that crimes will go unpunished under budget cuts | OregonLive.com

    Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk says he would stop prosecuting prostitution, trespassing, minor drug offenses and other misdemeanors if forced to make budget cuts county Chairman Jeff Cogen seeks.

    In a letter to Cogen, Schrunk said the chairman's directive that the district attorney cut five misdemeanor prosecutors would make it impossible to continue many core prosecution functions.

    "It would mean that many of the crimes that determine quality of life in many of our neighborhoods could not be prosecuted," he wrote.

    Cogen did not respond to a request for a comment.

    He is scheduled to release his proposed $380 million-plus general fund budget Thursday. The county is projecting a shortfall of more than $5 million.

    The suggestion that popular services could be eliminated is not uncommon in budget battles. Last year, Schrunk said proposed cuts would force his office to downgrade some felonies to misdemeanors and some misdemeanors would be prosecuted as violations. He also said some violations might not be prosecuted at all.

    Schrunk said he ended up dropping the prosecution of many misdemeanors to violations and sought treatment programs and deferred prosecution for others. But in his recent letter to Cogen, Schrunk said the district attorney's office has taken a bigger budget hit than other county departments in the past two years.

    He said simply shifting prosecutors from felonies to misdemeanors won't work because of scheduling differences between the units, and "if done on a regular basis, it would undermine our ability to prosecute serious felony cases."

    In a memo, Fred Lenzser and Jeff Howes, senior deputy district attorneys, laid out for Schrunk how the office would handle the loss of five prosecutors. The office has nine misdemeanor deputies assigned to the trial division. They must cover four trial courtrooms, in which there may be as many as six trials a day.

    The cuts would mean the office would be unable to staff civil commitment hearings and mental health court.

    Lenzser and Howes recommended the office continue to prosecute misdemeanor cases that pose the most danger to the public, including driving under the influence of intoxicants, third-degree sexual abuse, public indecency, firearms offenses and aggravated versions of other misdemeanor crimes.

    Misdemeanor offenses that would not be prosecuted include commercial and private thefts, fourth-degree assault, violation of a stalking order, drug charges, prostitution, harassment, trespassing, disorderly conduct, interfering with public transportation, criminal mischief, menacing, resisting arrest, hit and run, reckless driving, driving while suspended and any Portland city code offense.

    "The plan presented by my professional legal staff is not one I would enjoy implementing or one I would recommend as good county public policy," Schrunk wrote to Cogen. "Nevertheless, if the proposed cuts are made as proposed, this plan, or one very similar to it, will have to occur. You need to know that."

    -- James Mayer



    I find this disturbing and interesting..."Last year, Schrunk said proposed cuts would force his office to downgrade some felonies to misdemeanors and some misdemeanors would be prosecuted as violations. He also said some violations might not be prosecuted at all."

    So I guess he IS the Law. Or can change it if He needes too?

    That doesnt sound right.
     
  4. Father of four

    Father of four Portland, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    The Publics safety should be at the top of the Multnomah County's list of responsibilities.

    #1?
     
  5. trainsktg

    trainsktg Portland OR Well-Known Member

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    It seems like the money being spent on this nebulous program would be better spent to keep a lot of bad guys off the streets instead. From Mult. Co.'s own website:

    "A 7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will allow communities to support healthy choices by increasing the availability of healthy foods and beverages, and improving access to safe places for physical activity."

    Whatever. Lets not forget, they actually pay people to come up with programs like this. (I bet their union prevents them from getting drug tested too :laugh: .)

    Keith
     
  6. Trlsmn

    Trlsmn In Utero (Portland) Well-Known Member

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    There's no money in prosecuting criminals. So, DA won't prosecute and if we use force to defend our property we will likely be accused/charged with some form of excessive force, it's a wonderful world. At what point do we cease to need the police/judicial branch?

    OK back to reality. this is just a clever way to beg for cash on the part of the DA's office, or as the legal profession would call it extortion. Don't they prosecute the Mob for protection rackets?
     
  7. chemist

    chemist Beaverton OR Well-Known Member

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    The same thing has happened in Oakland, CA, where the police have loudly and publically advertised what crimes they will no longer investigate:

    Oakland fires 80 police officers, lists crimes cops will no longer respond to | Raw Story

    It's an effective ploy on the part of the PD to try to get the people so outraged that they demand reinstatement of the public-safety budget, but IMO it's also irresponsible in the extreme.

    So go ahead and commit your burglaries and car thefts, bad guys - be our guests! But God help the homeowner who shoots a burglar in his own house in California.
     
  8. Bad Droid

    Bad Droid Hillsbarrio Member

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    I smell another tax hike coming soon. probably like the other "Its for the safety of the children" tax hikes. And probably at the expense of local businesses and contractors like a lot of these taxes.
    Then, they will scare everyone telling them that criminals will be running wild in the streets and that the new taxes will help hire more cops and prosecute more bad guys where in all actuality we will just hire more traffic enforcement and purchase more police units and radar guns so that our counties will be broke again and begging for additional tax dollars next year. Again.
     
  9. SonicBlue03

    SonicBlue03 Snohomish Well-Known Member

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    Of those drug offenses they can no longer prosecute I wonder what % are marijuana users.
     
  10. BrentN

    BrentN Kelso Active Member

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    It's comforting to know that Mayor Adams finds this "unacceptable". I'm sure once he's tackled outlawing plastic bags and 40's of Schlitz in the park blocks, he'll address this with full force....
     
  11. Bad Droid

    Bad Droid Hillsbarrio Member

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    :thumbup: :laugh:
     
  12. revjen45

    revjen45 Snohomish County Well-Known Member

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    Does the proposed ban include 211 Steel Reserve?
     
  13. Martini_Up

    Martini_Up NW USA Well-Known Member

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    cut all retired public employees retirement by 10%, current employees should be cashed out and their pension put into 401(k) (like the rest of us) and can't retire until they're 59-1/2 or 30 years service. That's a start....
     
  14. parallax

    parallax eugene, or-gun Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    EXACTLY!!!:thumbup: