Myths and Facts

Myth:  Serving time in an adult prison or jail teaches kids in trouble a lesson. 

Fact:  Studies have now shown that children are more likely to re-offend after serving time in adult jails and prisons.  This is likely due to a lack of treatment, programming and education in adult facilities as well as youth being exposed to adult criminals.

Myth:  There aren’t very many youth in adult prison or jails in the US.

Fact:  On any given day, more than 7,000 children are in adult jails. The number of youth placed in adult jails has increased by 208% since 1990.

Myth:  Youth can be kept safe in adult prisons. 

Fact:  Children in adult prisons are at a greatly increased risk of abuse, sexual assault, suicide, and death.

Myth:  Before a youth is tried as an adult in Oregon, a judge decides whether the juvenile system is the best option for accountabiliyt and rehabilitation.  

Fact:  Under Measure 11, youth 15, 16 and 17 years old are automatically tried as adults for certain person to person crimes with no judicial review. If convicted, youth serve the same mandatory minimum sentence that an adult would serve.

First time youth offenders can’t get a mandatory minimum sentence. 

Fact:  Under Measure 11, youth 15, 16 and 17 years old, even if this is their first time in trouble with the law, are sentenced to the same mandatory minimum sentence as if they were are 30 years old with a lengthy record.

Myth:  Youth sentenced under Measure 11 in Oregon can get good time or a Second Look  hearing. 

Fact:  Youth tried and convicted as adults for a Measure 11 offense can not earn “good time” or “earned time” by participating in programming or behaving well in prison.  They do not have an opportunity to go in front of a judge at any point to report on their progress in treatment and reformation.

Myth:  Oregon voters don’t want any reform of Measure 11. 

Fact:  They voted for it in 1994 and voted down a repeal effort in 2000, but recent polling shows that Oregon voters are willing to reconsider Measure 11 in certain areas, particularly when it comes to youth.  Polling done in March of 2009 found that voters support a Second Look hearing for youth, even youth convicted of serious and violent crimes.