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Legislators Launch Bipartisan Effort To Make State Question 780 Retroactive

Jess Dunn Correctional Center in Taft, Oklahoma.
Quinton Chandler
StateImpact Oklahoma
Jess Dunn Correctional Center in Taft, Oklahoma.

Two state lawmakers filed a bipartisan bill Thursday to make State Question 780 retroactive.

The 2016 ballot initiative reclassified felony drug possession and some felony property crimes often associated with addiction as misdemeanors. Generally, the most severe sentence for a misdemeanor conviction is a year in county jail.

Republican House Majority Leader Jon Echols and Democrat Jason Dunnington, both of Oklahoma City, partnered on the bipartisan measure, House Bill 1269, which would reduce sentences for every person in state prisons serving felony time for crimes now classified as misdemeanors.

If lawmakers approve the bill, thousands of people could see their sentences reduced or potentially qualify for early release.

Data from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections suggest that in just the fiscal year prior to SQ 780’s passage 1,483 people were sent to prison for felonies that are now considered misdemeanors.

An additional 2,944 people were incarcerated for a mix of felonies reduced to misdemeanors by SQ 780 and felonies that weren’t affected by the ballot initiative.

Quinton joined the team at StateImpact Oklahoma in 2017, focusing on criminal justice reporting. He is an OSU grad with degrees in Economics and Marketing who got his start in radio at KOSU. After graduation, Quinton served as Morning Edition Host/General Assignment Reporter at KBBI Radio in Homer, Alaska and Education Reporter at KTOO Public Media in Juneau, Alaska. Quinton loves writing, reading and has an intense relationship with his Netflix account.
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