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Juvenile crime system cuts would have domino effect.

Byline: BILL BISHOP The Register-Guard

In Lane County Juvenile Court, Judge Kip Leonard trades promises.

Young criminals promise to follow the rules in reform programs, on probation or in drug treatment. Leonard promises them support if they do or a stay in the county's juvenile detention center if they don't.

When Leonard removes an abused or neglected child from a home, he promises shelter or foster care while parents resolve domestic violence problems or get drug or mental health treatment.

"This isn't something where you can quick-fix them in some other way," Leonard said. "We're talking about entrenched behavior rooted in the family. Often these youths, when they are treated, can't go back to their families."

But soon Leonard might not be able to make as many promises. Every juvenile corrections program - from state youth prisons to local shelters for abused kids - faces cuts if Measure 28 fails.

The three-year income tax increase on a special Jan. 28 ballot would raise $313 million for state programs to cover the past five months of the current budget cycle. But if voters reject the increase, juvenile justice programs would face another $7.8 million reduction starting in February.

Even so, the cuts aren't a done deal, said Sen. John Minnis, R-Fairview, a 16-year member of the Legislature and a Portland police detective.

When the Legislature meets in January, lawmakers can reallocate spending to preserve core government services - such as public safety, Minnis said.

Gov.-elect Ted Kulongoski, who was instrumental in overhauling the state's juvenile corrections system in the mid-1990s, isn't likely to go along with dismantling the system, Minnis said.

"There is a political reason those things have been offered up (for budget cutting)," Minnis said. "I don't think Ted Kulongoski is going to do that."

But in the meantime, the state is planning for the worst-case scenario.

The most provocative part of the juvenile justice system's proposed budget cuts would close four of seven youth prisons. That would eliminate 250 beds for young criminals and send them back to their home counties, free on parole.

In Lane County, 38 of the most serious young criminals - repeat offenders sent to prison after failing reform programs - would be back on the street.

The prison closures, paired with a $3.1 million cut in money for county reform programs statewide, dismantle the coordinated state and local efforts created in the mid-1990s that stopped a surge in violent juvenile crime, said Steve Doell, head of the influential lobbying group Crime Victims United. The proposed reductions would spark a new surge, he predicted.

"I can almost guarantee it," Doell said. "For every one of those crimes, there is going to be a flesh-and-blood victim."

State officials are working with juvenile authorities in all counties to decide who would get released and how to supervise them afterward.

A state analysis indicates the release would include 42 burglars, 48 car thieves, 36 drug dealers and users, 26 thieves, 32 misdemeanor assailants and five animal abusers.

That's based on the type of crime that put them behind bars. But the releases also would take into account other factors, including behavior in prison and past criminal record, so the lineup probably would change to include youths imprisoned for more serious crimes but who are demonstrating success in reform programs, Oregon Youth Authority spokeswoman Karen Andall said.

The releases would have a domino effect. Less-serious local offenders would be pushed out of county reform programs and detention centers because some of the released state inmates are likely to recycle through local programs, Andall said.

Local and state reform efforts and support services are interlocked. Under the reforms of the 1990s, they share funding, staffing, treatment resources, clients and common goals that reach from the tightest security programs for the worst young criminals to family intervention programs that help youths in local communities turn away from crime.

So the state budget cuts would extend into every community. That means funding for supervision and treatment programs would decline at the same time the state youth prisons would close.

"The ability of juvenile departments to serve high-risk youth offenders locally with funds currently provided by OYA will be dramatically reduced," Andall said.

On the local level, the cuts fall into three piles: less space in the county's 32-bed detention center as youths from state prisons re-enter local programs; fewer shelter beds and foster care placements for the county's abused children; and fewer reform programs for local offenders.

Local detention beds are wasted on hardened young criminals who have been there a dozen times already and should be in longer-term state prisons for more intensive management, Leonard said.

"The kids in OYA are older, bigger and harder," the judge said. "The kids down here are younger, smaller and softer."

Along with the loss of juvenile crime prevention programs comes a loss of shelter beds and foster care for nondelinquent children who aren't safe in their own homes, he said.

"These cuts will affect all of those areas," Leonard said. "We are part of the continued destruction of their lives if we don't intervene when we have the opportunity.

"As citizens, as parents, as neighbors, we want these kids to become productive members of society."

MEASURE 28

What: A three-year state income tax increase on a special Jan. 28 ballot.

Rates: Of three tax brackets, only the top one, 9 percent, would increase, rising to 9.5 percent for the 2002, 2003 and 2004 tax years. It would return to 9 percent in 2005. The two other marginal tax rates, paid by a minority of earners whose income falls below $6,276, would remain unchanged at 5 percent and 7 percent.

The corporate income tax rate would increase from 6.6 percent to 6.93 percent.

State revenue: The increase would generate $313 million in the 2001-03 biennium and $412 million in the 2003-05 budget cycle.

Taxpayers: The net tax increase for this year would be $114 for the average income tax filer.

JUVENILE CORRECTIONS CUTS

Falling state revenue forced a $7.3 million cut this year from the $270 million budget that deals with juvenile crime. Unless voters approve a Jan. 28 tax increase, the state agency plans to cut another $7.8 million from state and county programs, effective Feb. 1. Here's how the state would make the cuts:

Close four youth prisons: Shut down 250 of the state's 1,131 prison beds for young criminals - a 22 percent reduction. The 250 youths - including 38 from Lane County - would be released on parole.

Cut county programs: Reduce payments to counties by $3.1 million statewide. Statewide cuts would close 62 short-term shelter beds for youths under court control while their needs are assessed or youths who are returning after prison terms; 30 residential treatment beds and 61 foster care beds. The programs typically would serve a total of 800 youths in the remaining five months of the fiscal year.

Cut offender supervision: Lay off 21 case managers and parole and probation officers across the state, increasing caseloads for remaining workers by about 12 percent.

Cut crime prevention: County crime prevention efforts lose $750,000 statewide for programs that focus on youths at high risk of committing crime. Programs address family, school and other issues.

Lane County impact: The state prison closures would release 38 of Lane County's most serious youth offenders - those who failed local reform programs and continued to commit crimes. The county's share of state prison beds would fall to 40. The county also would lose 13 shelter beds, including six in the county's only facility for girls. An undetermined cut would occur in parole and probation supervision. Other reform programs would sustain an undefined level of cuts.

CAPTION(S):

A client reads in the living area of Albany's Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility, which serves Lane and other counties. Clients at the Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility play sports in the gym as part of class instruction. The facility could see significant cuts if Measure 28 fails. THOMAS BOYD / The Register-Guard Clients at the Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility watch a video as part of their class instruction. WHAT'S NEXT WEDNESDAY: Cuts planned for adult prisons MEASURE 28 What: A three-year state income tax increase on a special Jan. 28 ballot. Rates: Of three tax brackets, only the top one, 9 percent, would increase, rising to 9.5 percent for the 2002, 2003 and 2004 tax years. It would return to 9 percent in 2005. The two other marginal tax rates, paid by a minority of earners whose income falls below $6,276, would remain unchanged at 5 percent and 7 percent. The corporate income tax rate would increase from 6.6 percent to 6.93 percent. State revenue: The increase would generate $313 million in the 2001-03 biennium and $412 million in the 2003-05 budget cycle. Taxpayers: The net tax increase for this year would be $114 for the average income tax filer. JUVENILE CORRECTIONS CUTS Falling state revenue forced a $7.3 million cut this year from the $270 million budget that deals with juvenile crime. Unless voters approve a Jan. 28 tax increase, the state agency plans to cut another $7.8 million from state and county programs, effective Feb. 1. Here's how the state would make the cuts: Close four youth prisons: Shut down 250 of the state's 1,131 prison beds for young criminals - a 22 percent reduction. The 250 youths - including 38 from Lane County - would be released on parole. Cut county programs: Reduce payments to counties by $3.1 million statewide. Statewide cuts would close 62 short-term shelter beds for youths under court control while their needs are assessed or youths who are returning after prison terms; 30 residential treatment beds and 61 foster care beds. The programs typically would serve a total of 800 youths in the remaining five months of the fiscal year. Cut offender supervision: Lay off 21 case managers and parole and probation officers across the state, increasing caseloads for remaining workers by about 12 percent. Cut crime prevention: County crime prevention efforts lose $750,000 statewide for programs that focus on youths at high risk of committing crime. Programs address family, school and other issues. Lane County impact: The state prison closures would release 38 of Lane County's most serious youth offenders - those who failed local reform programs and continued to commit crimes. The county's share of state prison beds would fall to 40. The county also would lose 13 shelter beds, including six in the county's only facility for girls. An undetermined cut would occur in parole and probation supervision. Other reform programs would sustain an undefined level of cuts. 2003
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Title Annotation:Budget: Four youth prisons would close and support services diminish if Measure 28 fails.; Government
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 24, 2002
Words:1784
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