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Oregon’s progressive Gov. Brown clemency push comes amid spike in violent crime

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With violent crime on the rise in big cities around the country, Oregon’s progressive governor is pioneering the power of executive clemency, prompting an outcry from prosecutors in her state charged with putting dangerous criminals behind bars.

“This is the massive release of violent criminals through a process which violates the legal requirements of law,” said Kevin Mannix, the president of Common Sense for Oregon and the lawyer whose firm is bringing a lawsuit against Gov. Kate Brown on behalf of two district attorneys and the families of three murder victims.

In Portland, Oregon’s largest city, police statistics show 85 homicides in 2021, up from 57 in 2020. There were 36 in 2019 – and 26 the year before that.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown speaks at the state capital building in Salem, Oregon, February 20, 2015.
(REUTERS/Steve Dipaola )

OREGON LAWSUIT DECRIES DEMOCRAT GOVERNOR’S CLEMENCY PUSH AS UNLAWFUL AFTER NEARLY 1,000 CONVICTS FREED

Mannix and the plaintiffs have taken issue with the nearly 1,000 convicts who Brown has allowed to leave prison early after March 2020.

“Recidivism, or repeat conviction rate, for violent criminals is at least 40%,” Mannix told Fox News Digital Tuesday. “Sure, we try to rehabilitate people. We try to change their lives, and we should keep trying. But the prediction I would make is that 40% of these violent criminals are going to commit another violent crime.”

On an individual basis, Mannix said, the governor has the right and the power to grant clemency. But there policies on how to do so that he alleges she is flouting.

“[The petitioners] seek Mandamus to order suspension of illegal sentence reductions which are being carried out under the Governor’s asserted clemency power, but which violate the clemency requirements of the Oregon Constitution and Oregon laws,” the filing reads.

Protesters rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. June 13, 2020.

Protesters rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. June 13, 2020.
(REUTERS/Terray Sylvester)

OREGON CHRISTMAS KILLER COULD GO FREE AFTER JUST 14 YEARS OF 25 TO LIFE SENTENCE IF GOV. BROWN GRANTS CLEMENCY

According to Cornell Law School, a Writ of Mandamus is a court order for a government official to “properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.”

In addition to failing to properly notify victims’ families, the suit alleges, the governor also unlawfully delegated her clemency powers to state agencies, including the Oregon Board of Parole.

“She’s turning herself into a super-legislature, which is across the board suddenly lowering sentences,” Mannix said. “And we’re saying she doesn’t have the power to carry out that process.”

The prosecutors, Lane County’s Patricia Perlow and Linn County’s Doug Marteeny, are also asking the judge to stifle Brown’s policy on commutations for people convicted of crimes as minors.

“The commutation power does not grant the governor the ability to establish a new alternative penalty of being subject to a Parole Board hearing and oversight,” Marteeny wrote in a court filing. “I believe the governor has attempted to exercise powers not granted to her in her commutation powers and has violated established laws regarding the parameters of the clemency process.”

Joining them in the lawsuit are the relatives of three murder victims.

Randy Tennant’s mother was stabbed to death by her own grandson, Andrew Johnson, when he was 17. He stabbed her in the neck and head 10 times, then stole $2,000 and went on a shopping spree. He has served seven years of a 25-to-life sentence.

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Samuel Williams lost his developmentally disabled daughter, Jessica, when three teens stabbed her under Portland’s Steel Bridge, “mutilated” her body and lit it on fire. Richard Alsup served 16 years of a 25-to-life sentence. Amy Jones, Williams’ surviving daughter, is also a plaintiff in the suit.

Melissa Grassl found her partner, Austin French, shot dead in their bedroom on the Halloween of 2006. His brother, Cayche French, has served 14 years on a 25-to-life sentence.

A spokesperson for Brown last week told Fox News Digital that the governor “takes every effort” to get input from the victims of crime before granting clemency.

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.



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