OKLAHOMA CITY – Voters were able to decide whether or not they wanted criminal justice reform in the state.
State Question 780 would reclassify some criminal offenses, like drug possession and property crimes, to misdemeanors instead of felonies. Supporters say treating drug addiction is much more effective than sending offenders to prison, and say it would save the state millions since half of all people incarcerated in Oklahoma are considered non-violent offenders.
“In states that have already implemented a variation of these reforms, they’ve actually experienced a reduction in crime and increase in public safety by addressing those core issues of addiction and mental illness,” Kris Steele, former Speaker of the House, told NewsChannel 4.
Some critics say they oppose the measure because a person could be convicted multiple times of a misdemeanor and it would never become a felony.
“I will have a conversation with a family with a guy who’s been six times in the county jail for meth, and then he kills somebody. And, I will have to tell them, if the law hadn’t change, I might could have stopped this guy,” said Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn.
Voters chose to approve the measure.
With 1,620 precincts reporting, 57% of voters approved the measure, compared to 42% who were against it.
State Question 781 relates to State Question 780. If State Question 780 passed, this question would allow counties to use money that was saved from not sending those offenders to prison to fund community rehabilitation programs.
Oklahoma voters at the polls also decided to approve State Question 781. In all, 56.8% of voters approved the measure, compared to 43% who were against it.