OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is praising the Senate for passing eight criminal justice measures.
The Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force, which was convened by the governor last year, recommended these reforms after studying the data and facts of the criminal justice system in Oklahoma, and the governor asked lawmakers to consider them in her State of the State.
“These historic votes will improve public safety in Oklahoma, and save our state $1.9 billion,” said Fallin. “Making smart, data-driven decisions on how to increase safety while decreasing our overcapacity prisons is key to pursuing smaller, more efficient, and more moral government. My thanks to Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat and Senator Wayne Shaw for sponsoring this landmark legislation, and for taking a huge step towards a better criminal justice system and a safer Oklahoma.”
The Senate passed:
- Senate Bill (SB) 603, which would require the development of individualized plans for inmates to help them better reintegrate into society.
- SB 604, which would provide training for law enforcement officers on how to better deal with victims of domestic violence.
- SB 609, which would establish the framework for a training and certification process for professional victim advocates.
- SB 649, which would distinguish between those who have a history of committing violent crimes from persons with a history of committing nonviolent offenses in determining how much their sentences should be enhanced for being repeat offenders
- SB 650, which would reform qualifications for certain expungement categories.
- SB 689, which would allow judges and prosecutors more options in diverting people from prison to treatment and supervision programs. It also would decrease financial barriers for convicted individuals seeking to re-enter society, would expand the use of graduated sanctions and incentives that could be used in response to inmate behavior and would expand eligibility for certain programs that are alternatives to incarceration.
- SB 786, which would create an additional burglary tier to distinguish by severity.
- SB 793, which would set up an oversight council to monitor the effectiveness of criminal justice reform efforts.
The bills now head to the Oklahoma House of Representatives for consideration.
The Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force included those in law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, members of the business community, victim advocates, mental health and addiction professionals, and legislators.
Oklahoma has the second-highest imprisonment rate in the country.
It has the highest rate for women – a ranking the state has held since 1991.
Moreover, Oklahoma’s prison population is projected to grow 25 percent in the next 10 years at a cost of $1.2 billion in capital expenditures and an additional $700 million in operating costs over 10 years.
State officials say proposed legislation will save more than 7,800 beds, averting the immediate need for new prisons and much of these additional expenses.