Gov. Stitt signs criminal justice reform measure to apply state question retroactively

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Kevin Stitt has signed a criminal justice reform measure that affects as many as 60,000 Oklahomans.

Earlier this month, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle discussed the importance of criminal justice reform and House Bill 1269.

“We know that Governor Stitt is focused on criminal justice reform, and I think you will see several more pieces of legislation in the future that will try to right the ship and stem incarceration rates in Oklahoma,” Sen. Stephanie Bice said.

Officials say House Bill 1269 would help ease prison overcrowding by applying State Question 780 retroactively.

State Question 780 reclassified some criminal offenses, like drug possession and property crimes, to misdemeanors instead of felonies.

This bill would also allow people to have certain existing felonies expunged from their records.

“You get out and you can’t get a job because you have a felony. You can’t get a lawyer because you don’t have any money. You can’t get a lawyer because you don’t have any money, and you can’t get a job because you can’t get a lawyer,” Rep. Jon Echols said. “You’re stuck in this cycle.”

Authors of the bill say they wanted to make the process as simple as possible so people don’t have to put themselves in a deeper hole to take advantage of the new law.

“We don’t want them to have to go get an attorney to actually apply for expungement,” Senator Bice said. “It makes the process for them incredibly simple and I think that’s a huge win.”

On Tuesday, Governor Stitt signed House Bill 1269 into law.

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