CHRISTINE DRAZAN

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Drazan urges Governor Brown to revoke prolific burglar’s commutation

State lawmaker urges Oregon’s governor to revoke prolific burglar’s commutation as he’s wanted for new alleged crime
The Oregonian

A state lawmaker Wednesday urged Gov. Kate Brown to revoke the commutation she granted to Melvin Lee Tillman, one of Portland’s most prolific burglars accused of committing another crime five months after his release.

State Rep. Christine Drazan’s letter comes five days after The Oregonian/OregonLive detailed Tillman’s case and systemic problems dealing with a long-standing offender accused of committing another crime.

“Unfortunately, the crimes Tillman committed since you granted him early release cannot be undone. However, you do have an opportunity to restore some measure of justice by revoking the commutation you issued and ensuring that he serves out his original sentence as intended,” Drazan, R-Canby, wrote to the governor.

Drazan has said she plans to run for governor this year.

A warrant is out for Tillman’s arrest on a second-degree burglary charge.

Tillman, sentenced in 2019 to six years and three months in prison for 10 business break-ins, was released from prison after two years in June. Within months, he flouted his post-prison supervision, wasn’t living where he said he was and not reporting to his supervision officer, according to court records. In November, he was arrested, accused of breaking into a plant business in Southeast Portland.

Tillman’s commutation was among more than 940 granted by the governor as she has made an extraordinary effort to reduce sentences of people in Oregon’s prisons. Tillman met the criteria for people who were vulnerable to COVID-19, the governor’s office said.

The governor has the sole authority to revoke a conditional commutation.

Last week, Brown’s press secretary Elizabeth Merah said the governor’s office “has communicated to DAs that, if a person who received a commutation has committed a new crime, they should reach out to our office to request a revocation of the commutation, and the governor will take that into consideration.”

The governor doesn’t make any decision until a violation is confirmed, Merah said. In Tillman’s case, Brown would wait until his new burglary case is resolved, she said.

On Wednesday, Merah said the office received Drazan’s letter.

“Our office is still gathering information and doing our due diligence regarding Tillman’s latest indictment,” Merah said by email. “Information will be presented to the Governor, and she will make a decision in this case whether to revoke his commutation.”

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A copy of Rep. Drazan’s letter to Governor Brown is available here.