Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed what she called a landmark corrections bill that will significantly change how the state deals with nonviolent offenders and relieve prison overcrowding, The Oklahoman reports. Bill author and House Speaker Kris Steele hopes to look at sentencing guidelines next year. “This is only the first step in the work we have left to do as a state,” he said.
The bill expands both the use of community sentencing programs and the electronic monitoring of low-risk, nonviolent inmates. It limits the governor’s role in the parole process for nonviolent offenders and requires state Pardon and Parole Board members to meet minimum qualifications. The measure takes effect Nov. 1. It’s the first significant piece of legislation favoring alternative sentences for nonviolent offenders. Legislators over the years have passed “tough on crime” measures that have increased penalties and prison sentences.