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Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform

Gov. Kevin Stitt and legislators celebrated a budget deal in the waning days of the session.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Multiple polls show the majority of Oklahoma voters support criminal justice reforms.

Survey data commissioned by Oklahoma Public Radio stations for the Oklahoma Engaged Project also suggest a majority of voters believe the state’s sentencing laws need to be reworked.

Oklahoma is now the number one incarcerator in the country, but only one bill targeting prison population control reached the governor’s desk this session.

Tracy Smallwood is grateful for the life she’s worked to build after leaving prison.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tracy Smallwood says her life before she went to prison was just “dead time.”

Michael Cross / KOSU

Criminal justice reform supporters rallied at the Capitol on Wednesday in a final push for bills to reduce prison populations.

The group Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform says about ten bills from the Governor's Justice Reform Initiative are still alive in conference committee and could pass before the end of session on May 26th.

Former House Speaker Kris Steele says fixing the broken justice system is absolutely a budget issue.

Carla Quillen, a proponent of SQ 780/781 stands outside her office on Aug. 30, 2016
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Oklahoma’s prisons are crowded, and the state continues to incarcerate offenders at the second- highest rate in the nation, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Two state questions on the November 8 ballot aim to ease both of those strains.  

State Tries To Address Corrections System In New Task Force

Sep 1, 2016
Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her 2016 State of the State address Feb. 1, 2016.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin announced a new criminal justice task force Wednesday. The 18-member group wants to have data-driven policy reforms proposed in time for the 2017 legislative session.

 

Fallin says The Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force aims to reduce Oklahoma’s prison population while maintaining public safety and controlling the ever-increasing cost of the the state’s corrections system. Annually, Oklahoma pays roughly $500 million to the Department of Corrections.

The American Civil Liberties Union's Ryal Kiesel (left) and former Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry (right) sign initiative petitions for State Questions 780 and 781
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform launched a petition drive Thursday aimed at reducing the prison population and redirecting savings to create treatment and rehabilitation programs. 

Former House Speaker and current chair of the coalition Kris Steele stood with political, faith and business leaders and argued the importance of helping convicted felons.