Two proposed senate bills would alter criminal justice reform laws passed this past election

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Two proposed senate bills would alter two criminal justice reform laws, which passed this past election.

"Today, many of these individuals, when we're putting them away, aren't receiving any sort of addiction treatment,” said Danielle Ezell with the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition.

That’s one reason why Ezell voted yes to state questions 780 and 781.

"I met with some female inmates yesterday, and one of them said to me 'I keep being locked away, but we're not treating my addiction,'” Ezell said.

780 will change certain non-violent drug and theft related crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

781 was designed to make funds available that could be claimed by private rehabilitative organizations to provide drug and mental health treatment.

Both aim to lower the incarceration rate in our state.

"I have had a lot of people in law enforcement, district attorneys, ADAs, sheriffs right on down the line come to me and tell me that by having everything be a misdemeanor as far as the drug possession that is going to cause some serious problems,” said Senator Micheal Bergstrom.

Bergstrom authored senate bill 256, which would author those laws.

"My bill does not immediately make the first offense or the second offense a felony. You're looking at a third time. So, you get three chances,” Bergstrom said.

Bergstrom’s bill is similar to senate bill 398.

"I still support the part that we need to do something about incarcerating people but, when people reoffend and reoffend as it is now or after that bill goes into effect after the 1st and 21st, it's still a misdemeanor,” said Senator Darcy Jech, who authored SB 398.

Those who opposed the bills are speaking out.

"It's really infuriating and upsetting that some of our elected officials are ignoring the vote of the people,” Ezell said.

However, both senators said they’re willing to hear them out.

"If I can meet with some of the organizations that are opposed to it, maybe we can come to some sort of compromise,” Jech said.

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