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Oklahoma governor opposes criminal justice initiative

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt says he opposes a proposed state question that would restrict prosecutors from using previous felony convictions to enhance sentences in certain criminal cases.

In a speech Tuesday to the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, The Oklahoman reports Stitt said that while he supports criminal justice reforms, he’s concerned about enshrining the changes in the Oklahoma Constitution.

“Trying to put this into our state’s constitution, it peels back enhancements for DUIs, human trafficking, domestic violence _ some of the things I don’t think we need to put into our constitution,” Stitt said.

A bipartisan group of business, religious and political leaders called Oklahomans for Sentencing Reform launched the initiative last month, saying they’ve seen years of legislative inaction on the issue, largely because of strong opposition from Oklahoma prosecutors.

Once the initiative is approved, supporters must gather nearly 178,000 signatures in a 90-day window for the proposal to appear on the ballot as State Question 805.

If passed, the measure would allow people serving time for nonviolent crimes who were sentenced with a sentence enhancement to petition a court to have their sentences shortened.

Sentence enhancements often add additional prison time for repeat offenders.

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