Juvenile justice in Oregon: Turning lives around


Oregon’s Juvenile Justice System will be front and center at the next Willamette Women Democrats program on Thursday, June 8, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Lakewood Theater Community Room (lower level), 368 S. State St. in Lake Oswego. Clackamas County Juvenile Department Director Christina McMahan will take part as a panelist at the event.

Falling into Oregon’s Juvenile Justice System can change the life course of a young person who has been adjudicated for violating the law. If a youth is adjudicated, the Juvenile Justice System focuses on providing a safe and stable environment while holding youth accountable for their behavior; it also encourages them to finish school, learn skills, and live a productive, crime-free life after completing their probation or commitment to the Oregon Youth Authority.

In Oregon, the Juvenile Justice System deals with youth under the age of 18 who commit crimes, and if the crime is serious enough the system can hold them until the age of 25. Youths who are ages 15, 16, and 17 and are convicted as adults under Measure 11’s mandatory minimum sentencing are typically incarcerated in Oregon’s youth correctional facilities, and if they have not completed their adult sentence by age 25, are transferred to adult prisons where they are incarcerated to serve out the remaining time on their sentence.

The program will feature a panel that will provide information about Oregon’s Juvenile Justice System and some of its challenges. Panelists include:

  • Judge Deanne Darling, Juvenile Court Judge for Clackamas County,
  • Christina McMahan, Director of the Clackamas County Juvenile Department,
  • Fariborz Pakseresht, Director of the Oregon Youth Authority, and
  • Sang Dao, a young person who graduated magna cum laude from PSU while serving at the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility.

The public is invited to hear this informative program. The cost is $15.00 for members/$20.00 for non-members. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP online by Monday, June 5 or call 503-656-4445 (CM Bookkeeping).

About the panelists

While serving his sentence, Dao received his high school diploma and he attended and graduated magna cum laude from Portland State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Today he serves as a Juvenile Counseling Assistant for the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice. In his role, he works with Probation Services for the Juvenile Services Division. Dao is using his degree and his personal experience to help other youths who find themselves involved in the Juvenile Justice System.

  • Sang Dao’s personal life exemplifies how falling into Oregon’s Juvenile Justice System can change the life of a young person convicted of a crime in Oregon. As a teenager, Dao was a gang member and a high school dropout. At age 17 he was sentenced to 12½ years in prison under Measure 11’s mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. After one year’s incarceration while his case was pending, he was transferred to the Oregon Youth Authority’s (OYA) MacLaren correctional facility where his remarkable transformation began.
  • The Honorable Deanne L. Darling was appointed to the Clackamas County Circuit Court trial bench in 1995 – the first woman to hold that position in her district. Prior to that, she had been in private practice for 16 years. Judge Darling was assigned to Juvenile Court in 1997 and handles all of the delinquency cases in her district. In 1999, she received the Chief Justice Juvenile Court Champion award for her extraordinary service and was recognized by the Citizens Review Board in 2003, and the Oregon Juvenile Department Directors Association in 2006. Judge Darling is past president of the Circuit Judges Association, and the Clackamas County Bar Association. She is retiring at the end of June 2017.
  • Fariborz Pakseresht (Fair’-borz Pahk’-ser-esht) has served as Director of the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) since March 2012. He joined OYA in 2008 after 19 years in a variety of leadership roles with Oregon State Government. Over the course of the past few years, Pakseresht has focused on enhanced use of data, research and analytics to inform decision making. Under his leadership, OYA currently is implementing a new, data-informed and research-based Youth Reformation System (YRS), which is aimed at driving down recidivism rates and improving positive outcomes for youth.
  • Christina McMahan was appointed to be the Clackamas County Juvenile Department Director in March 2016. McMahan graduated from George Fox University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Organizational Leadership, and then received her juris doctorate degree from Willamette University College of Law, as well as earning a Certificate of Dispute Resolution. Prior to her appointment in Clackamas County, she served for nearly five years as the Juvenile Services Division Director for the Multnomah County, Oregon Department of Community Justice. Before that, McMahan served in Oregon’s Juvenile Justice System in a number of other counties including Douglas, Deschutes and Marion counties, giving her a broad perspective of how the system works throughout the state.

For further information about the event, contact the Willamette Women Democrats at 503-656-4445.