Oregon Supreme Court sides with 5 juvenile killers

Sep 1, 2011

Salem, OREGON – The Oregon Supreme Court has sided with five juvenile killers who’ve long maintained the state treats them more harshly than adult murderers. The high court Thursday called on the Oregon Board of Parole to schedule hearings and even decide on release dates for two of the five.

One of the "Oregon Five" is Shane Sopher. He was sixteen when helped his then-girlfriend kill her mother. Under rules set by the Oregon Board of Parole Sopher – and four other juvenile killers who committed their crimes in the 1990s – could serve as many as forty years before receiving any kind of parole hearing. For adult killers it could be as little at twenty years. Here’s Sopher speaking from prison in 2008.

“They’re treating us a separate class from every other offender who’s ever been convicted in Oregon," Sopher said.

Now, after years of litigation, the Oregon Supreme Court in a 4-2 decision has sided with the “Oregon Five.” The court agreed the Parole Board’s treatment of these inmates is unlawful. As for Sopher, the court recommended the parole board schedule a hearing for him and consider setting a release date.