Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon supports the Accountability and Equity Act (HB 3064). As we state in our public testimony on the bill, here’s why:
Justice Reinvestment has been a success, saving the state funds, advancing public safety, and investing in local victim services. Importantly, it has reduced the number of lives impacted by imprisonment. The current bill will build on the strengths of Justice Reinvestment, based on what we have learned from its first years.
We especially appreciate the bill’s focus on equity. Fair treatment of all Oregonians is essential to the integrity of our justice system. For too long, the criminal justice system has reflected the inequities of our wider society, with disparate impacts burdening communities of color and other marginalized populations. As we seek to make meaningful changes to reform our justice system, it is essential that we ensure these changes reduce disparities, instead of heightening them. Members of the Equity Advisory Committee will provide needed expertise to guide this process.
We are also grateful for the ways this bill focuses on accountability. Accountability lies at the core of our justice system, and is strengthened by the example of accountability for public servants. We want all communities in Oregon to succeed in implementing these needed reforms. The counties that need additional motivation to adopt Justice Reinvestment principles will be aided by the systematic data collection, to measure successes and spaces for needed growth.
Faith communities understand that our responsibilities to one another are not interrupted by prison walls or criminal records. Our commitment to respect for each person’s dignity matters most to those who are vulnerable and on the margins.
We are grateful for our partner organizations in the Oregon Coalition for Safety and Savings, especially Partnership for Safety and Justice, for their work in crafting this bill and bringing it forward. We thank the House committee holding a hearing on this bill. We look forward to seeing the bill move forward – and to continue the work of making it successful, together.
EMO’s President, Jan Elfers, is a member of the Multnomah County Local Public Safety Coordinating Council, the body that oversees programs using Justice Reinvestment funds for Multnomah County.