Effort to Reintroduce ‘Ezra’s Law’ Stalls in Oregon House

House Republicans are accusing Democrats of stonewalling a new effort to adopt “Ezra’s Law,” a bill that they say would allow for sentencing that better reflects the impacts of permanent injuries for victims.

The bill is named after Ezra Thomas, who was just 2 years old when his mother’s boyfriend, Josue Mendoza-Melo, attacked him. Today, as a result of the injuries, Ezra cannot walk, talk or see.

Despite Ezra’s lifelong disabilities, Mendoza-Melo received a maximum sentence of just 12 years in prison.

The Ezra’s Law campaign sought 25-year prison terms for an injury that “permanently and significantly impairs” the victim’s cognitive function, vision, hearing or ability to walk or breathe, eat or move their limbs.

“This is a very sensitive bill that provides parity in sentencing for victims,” House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, of Canby, said in a press release. “Consequences for violent person-on-person crimes should reflect the permanent damages that someone suffers as a direct result of a criminal’s actions. This bill should have bipartisan support this session and should not be a political issue.”

“It’s a terrible result for victims that this attempt was sidelined by partisan agendas,” said Representative Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, a chief sponsor of the original bill. “We shouldn’t let politics get in the way of an issue as important as this.”

Bonham said the chair of the House Judiciary Committee refused to allow “Ezra’s Law” to move to a work session for discussion and a vote.

A similar scenario almost derailed Senate Bill 649, also known as “Bailey’s Bill,” a proposal that would protect victims of sex crimes with appropriate sentencing, until a bipartisan coalition was able to push the measure forward last month.

“Ezra, and victims like him, should not have to wait for true justice,” Bonham said.

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