Governor Mary Fallin signed into law four criminal justice reform bills Wednesday. Each bill is aimed at scaling back Oklahoma’s sentencing practices.
The legislation comes as a result of Fallin’s Oklahoma Justice Reform Committee that met during the fall of 2015.
HB 2751 raises the property crime threshold for a felony to $1000 from $500. HB 2479 lowers mandatory minimum drug sentences. HB 2472 allows district attorneys more discretion to file certain crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies, and HB 2753 widens eligibility for community sentencing and drug courts.
“We’re all about keeping our public safe,” Fallin said. “We think there are ways we can modernize our criminal justice system, its laws and to be smart on crime.”
State Representative Pam Peterson authored the bills and says the committee that devised these recommendations was not just state lawmakers.
“These were ideas from judges, from district attorneys, from public defenders, people that understand the criminal justice system and are definitely not soft on crime,” Peterson said.
Oklahoma’s District Attorneys Council endorsed all four measures, something Peterson points to as proof that the legislation had credibility with those directly involved in the criminal justice system.
The laws take effect November 1.