Former Oregon inmate granted clemency now works toward juvenile - KPTV - FOX 12

Former Oregon inmate granted clemency now works toward juvenile justice reform

Posted: Updated: Oct 26, 2015 09:26 PM

The former inmate granted clemency in one of Governor John Kitzhaber’s last acts in office said he is determined to make the most of the opportunity.

Seven months after being released from prison, Sang Dao is attending classes at Portland State University, with plans to earn his master’s degree in public policy.

On Monday, he took part in a panel discussion on juvenile justice reform at PSU.

Dao, now 25, wants to find alternatives to incarceration for teen offenders.

He said Oregon and Multnomah County are ahead of the curve, but there's more work to be done.

“There are a lot of underlying issues and there are a lot of factors that lead up to why they committed their crime,” he said. “So we want to be ahead and just work more upstream and be more preventative than reactive.”

Dao was convicted of attempted murder for a gang-related shooting at age 17.

He was charged as an adult and sentenced to 12 years in prison under Measure 11 mandatory sentencing guidelines.

While behind bars, he earned his GED and bachelor’s degree and participated in several work groups and committees.

Kitzhaber commuted Dao’s sentence just before leaving office in February.

“Everything I’ve done up to that point was just for the betterment of myself,” said Dao. “So to be on the receiving end of clemency, it was definitely a blessing. I really appreciate the opportunity and I’m taking it and running with it.”

In addition to pursing his master’s degree, Dao works part time in the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice.

Christina McMahan, the Multnomah County Juvenile Services Director and Dao’s supervisor, also took part in Monday’s panel discussion, along with Fariborz Pakseresht, the director of the Oregon Youth Authority and Mark McKechnie, executive director of Youth, Rights & Justice.

The panel was moderated by Evan Elkin, executive director of Reclaiming Futures.

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