Juveniles accused of Measure 11 crimes would be held in youth detention facilities rather than jails as they await trial under a bill the Oregon Senate approved Monday.
Proponents of the legislation say it is needed to stop the unsafe practice of holding juveniles among adults in county jails, where teens may be at increased risk for physical and sexual assault.
"Passage of House Bill 2707 sends a strong message from legislators that youth should not be held in adult jails," said Shannon Wight, associate director for Partnership for Safety and Justice, the organization that requested the bill. "Tough crime policy isn't the same as smart policy."
Measure 11, approved by Oregon voters in 1994 and reaffirmed by voters in 2000, imposes mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes and certain property crimes. It also mandates that juveniles age 15 and older charged with Measure 11 offenses be tried as adults.
As it stands, pretrial detention practices vary from county to county for youths accused of Measure 11 crimes.
These defendants are held in juvenile detention facilities in a small number of counties. Most counties keep them in adult jails until they stand trial.
Pretrial incarceration can last "up to a year," said David Rogers, executive director of Partnership for Safety and Justice.
He described the passage of HB 2707 bill as a progressive step forward.
"Youth who are held in adult jail are at significantly increased risk of experiencing violence, committing suicide — and they're actually at much higher risk of recidivating as well," Rogers said. "This really kind of puts our approach to dealing with kids who are charged as adults much more in the direction of being a best practice."
HB 2707 previously cleared the Oregon House. It now goes to Gov. John Kitzhaber for his signature.
Bill will let youths avoid adult jails http://t.co/h8jpADv