State v. Ryan




Oregon Supreme Court

Citation and Year

396 P.3d 867 (Or. 2017)

Constitutional Provision or State Statute

Oregon Const., art. 1, §16 (“Cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted. All penalties shall be proportioned to the nature of the offense.”)

Nature of Case

Steven Ryan was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and sentenced to 75 months in prison. Ryan’s counsel produced evidence that Ryan is intellectually disabled, including a low IQ score that indicated intellectual disability and evidence that he functioned at the level of a 10 year old—two years below the minimum age for criminal responsibility in Oregon.


Under the state constitution, courts must consider intellectual disability as part of proportionality review in every case, as it goes to “gravity of the offense.” The court explained that, “evidence of an offender’s intellectual disability … is relevant to a proportionality determination where sentencing laws require the imposition of a term of imprisonment without consideration of such evidence.” And “where the issue is presented, a sentencing court must consider an offender’s intellectual disability in comparing the gravity of the offense and the severity of a mandatory prison sentence on such an offender in a proportionality analysis.”


Under proportionality review in Oregon, “the gravity of an “offense” refers not just to the conduct and crime in question, but also to the particular offender: “To the extent that an offender’s personal characteristics influence his or her conduct, those characteristics can affect the gravity of the offense.” In this case, Ryan’s intellectual disability was relevant because he was given a mandatory-minimum sentence imposed without any regard to his personal characteristics and reduced culpability. Ryan’s sentence was vacated and remanded with instruction to consider his intellectual disability and “other case-specific factors.”