I have taken, as of late, an acute interest in Oregon criminal law. One of the interesting things about Oregon is that it has sentencing guidelines which are mandatory. While under federal law, there are sentencing guidelines, those are merely guidelines; in Oregon they are mandatory. Another interesting thing is that they only apply to felonies; misdemeanors are still left basically to the judges discretion, limited only by the maximum time possible for a misdemeanor, 365 days in jail.
There are some serious issues with the sentencing guidelines. For starters, under the guidelines, a crime category 1 or 2, is punishable by a maximum of 90 days. This is a felony which is punished much less harshly than a misdemeanor. Furthermore, there is a fraud being perpetrated on the people of Oregon. There is an administrative rule which states that all sentences under the guidelines are divided by 3. That means when the sentencing guidelines say 90 days, it really means 30 days. Why not change the guidelines to reflect this change? This allows the state to maintain its catch and release program while still looking like its tough on crime. Politics at its finest.
The reason the times are shorter for some felonies then they are for misdemeanors is that there is mandatory probation, time where the person is supervised, and if they screw up again, the maximum sentence can be imposed, which is normally up to about 5 years. At least that is how it used to work. Oregon passed House Bill 3805 this year, which makes the maximum possible jail sentence for a probation violation 60 days. That means, if you commit a crime category 1 or 2 felony the maximum jail sentences you can do, even if you screw up probation, is 70 days. Max. Compare that to Failure to Carry and Present a License (having a drivers license but not having it on your person) which is a C misdemeanor, the lowest form of misdemeanors. That crime is punishable by up to 90 days in jail. The insanity is apparent.
This post isn't about whether people should be spending more or less time in jail. What drives me crazy is when politicians play games like this; they pretend they are doing one thing, but actually do the other. If you are going to change the law, change it. Don't lie to the people, pretending to do one thing, while actually doing another.