Oregon to build public safety net

Oregon has published a request for proposals to build a public safety data

warehouse that will combine four systems and give police, policy-makers

and others interested in correctional issues a single resource, leading

to better and faster decision-making across agencies.

The data warehouse project is a result of an executive order that Gov.

John Kitzhaber issued in 1997. It called for program and offender performance

data to be made readily available to judges, attorneys and other practitioners,

enabling them to make decisions based on how well correctional programs

work to reduce the chances of someone committing crimes in the future.

Michael Marcus, an Oregon trial judge who has been an outspoken advocate

for bringing "rationality" to the crime and punishment debate, believes

that the need for a change in the ways criminals are sentenced "is evident

from the astounding frequency of recividism.

"I find it unacceptable that I have a wide range of discretion in many

sentencing hearings," he wrote, "but no information whatever about what

choices are most likely to prevent further criminal behavior by the offender."

Marcus has been a leading force in developing the data warehouse and

was behind one of Oregon's first instances of using sentencing support software

in Multnomah County courts, which serve one of the most populous areas in

the state.

Officials expect to award the contract in January for development of

the data warehouse. A pilot project is planned for installation around September,

with the completed data warehouse to come online by the middle of 2003.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be

reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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