CRIME VICTIMS UNITED
Measure 26 was a ballot measure proposed by CVU founders Bob and Dee Dee Kouns. It appeared on the ballot in November 1996, and was approved by an overwhelming margin.
The measure changed Section 15, Article I of the Constitution of the State of Oregon to:
Laws for the punishment of crime shall be founded on these principles: protection of society, personal responsibility, accountability for one's actions and reformation.
Previously, the constitution read as follows:
Laws for the punishment of crime shall be founded on the principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice.
Here are some of the arguments that appeared in the 1996 Voter's Pamphlet.
LEGISLATIVE ARGUMENT IN SUPPORT
Ballot Measure 26 amends the Oregon Constitution to provide that laws for the punishment of crime must be based on protection of society, personal responsibility, accountability for one's actions and reformation.
The daily newspaper carries stories about random crimes against innocent bystanders and we are continually shocked by the reports that on today's streets, children are killing children. Remember the horrific story of a teenage boy who purposely ran over a young girl simply for the thrill of doing it. The current system of criminal justice can no longer handle today's criminal . . . adult or juvenile.
Currently, the Oregon Constitution provides that "laws for the punishment of crime shall be founded on the principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice." This means that reforming the criminal's behavior is the highest and only guiding principle for criminal laws.
We believe that this 136-year-old provision of the Oregon Constitution no longer is adequate in dealing with the type of criminal that stalks our citizenry.
People are terrorized by criminals that in many cases cannot be reformed because they are blinded to their own violent behavior. . . criminals that demonstrate a lack of empathy and remorse for their victims. . . criminals that have not been held accountable or taken responsibility for their actions by the criminal justice system.
You have the opportunity to vote for the protection of your family and your neighbors. The people who break the laws must be held personally accountable for their actions and the damage they have done to their victims; and only then does a change in the criminal behavior begin.
We ask for your vote to help make Oregon a safer place for all. Please vote yes on Measure 26.
Senator Gordon H. Smith
ARGUMENT IN FAVOR
Measure 26 is straight forward. It is meant to be nothing less than a cornerstone upon which we may build a more civil society. Great care was taken to make the words simple and to accurately reflect desired values.
We see Measure 26 as the yardstick against which statutory legislation will be tested. Does the proposed legislation protect the public? Does it hold offenders accountable and personally responsible for what they have done? Does it provide an opportunity for reform?
We see Measure 26 affecting institutional policy. The many sides of corrections, parole and probation as well as rule making should be held to these same principles.
The values of personal responsibility and accountability are those of a free people in a free society. Only if we are responsible for our acts, can we maintain our freedom.
Regardless of our many social ills, we must never use them to justify the taking of someone's property, their body or their life. If one is not responsible for their acts then the state must take responsibility. We cannot say that my poverty, my abuse, my addiction, my race, my neighborhood make me do crime. Assuming victimhood is not an excuse for crime.
Some complain that the phrase "and not of vindictive justice" should be left in. But they forgot that when we left in that phrase in a 1989 proposal, they still opposed it. Their real reason is that they don't want people to be personally responsible. They want society to be responsible.
This measure is a statement about what our system should be. It is not about what it ought not be. Only Oregon and Indiana make reference to vindictive justice. Does that mean that Washington and Kansas and Minnesota have vindictive laws? Hardly.
Measure 26 passed the Senate 24 to 3 and the House 54 to 1.
Let's just do it.
Bob and DeeDee Kouns
|ARGUMENT IN OPPOSITION
THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF OREGON ASKS YOU TO VOTE NO ON MEASURE 26
Although Measure 26 will add some worthy concepts to the Oregon constitution, it will also remove a very important principle that is unique to the Oregon Bill of Rights.
In 1859, Oregon adopted its own Bill of Rights which purposely differed from the federal Bill of Rights in many ways. It gives Oregonians greater protection from government intrusions into our private lives than the federal constitution.
REFORM, NOT VENGEANCE
Article I, Section 15 of the Oregon Bill of Rights currently provides that "laws for the punishment of crime shall be founded on the principles of reformation and not of vindictive justice." There is no comparable principle in the federal Bill of Rights.
Measure 26 will amend the Oregon Bill of Rights to say that laws for the punishment of crime will be based on the following principles: "protection of society, personal responsibility, accountability for one's actions and reformation."
Those are sound additions to the constitution. In fact, the Oregon legislature has used those principles when creating punishments for crimes.
However, it is very disturbing that Measure 26 will delete the prohibition against vindictive justice from our constitution. This prohibition against revenge says something very important about who we are as Oregonians and how we will deliver justice.
UNIQUE OREGON RIGHTS ENDANGERED
Measure 26 is one of a series of measures this year that seek to repeal important parts of the Oregon Bill of Rights.
In addition to Measure 26, Measures 31 and 40 attempt to bring Oregon into lock-step with the federal constitution as it has been interpreted by unelected federal judges. All of these measures should be opposed by Oregonians who cherish their freedom.
SAVE THE OREGON BILL OF RIGHTS.
DON'T REMOVE OREGON'S BAN ON VENGEANCE.
VOTE NO ON MEASURE 26.
(This information furnished by David Fidanque, American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.)