Ore. Gov. Proposes Cuts to Youth Authority

SALEM, Ore. — Gov. John Kitzhaber’s new budget proposals calls for deep cuts to the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA), including removing 425 of the agency’s 900 close-custody beds for juvenile offenders and cutting 305 jobs.
The proposal would slash OYA’s general fund budget by 13 percent, leaving it with $231.7 million for the 2011-13 period.
Kitzhaber’s budget maintains Department of Corrections funding to keep all 13 adult prisons operating through the 2011-13 budget period, allotting to it $1.4 billion in state general funds for the adult prison system.
In his budget remarks, the governor also called for a review of sentencing policies and proposals aimed at reining in prison spending.
The prison population has doubled since voters passed mandatory minimum sentences for violent criminals in 1994. Kitzhaber said the sentences limit the state’s ability to reduce prison costs.
In a bid to save money on new prison construction and housing costs for nonviolent offenders, Kitzhaber proposed extending a freeze on Measure 57, a voter-approved law that mandates longer sentences for repeat property offenders and drug dealers.
The measure passed in November 2008. But the 2009 Legislature froze the tougher sentences from March 2010 until January 2012. Kitzhaber wants to extend the freeze to forestall planned construction of a new prison in Junction City.
OYA supervises about 900 offenders housed in 11 correctional facilities across the state. The two largest youth prisons are the 295-bed MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn and the 180-bed Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility in Salem.
Other OYA prisons and camps are in Albany, Warrenton, Tillamook, Florence, Grants Pass, Burns and La Grande.