OK Gov. Signs Bill to Reduce Prison Population, Save $170 Million


Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele, who led a three-year effort to pass legislation intended to control prison growth and change how the state handles prison issues, challenged lawmakers to continue similar efforts to reduce the state’s nation-leading incarceration rates, The Oklahoman reports. “The tide has truly turned,” said Steele, who couldn’t seek re-election because of 12-year legislative term limits. Steele wrote a measure expanding the types of inmates eligible for community sentencing and GPS monitoring. The bill was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin.

It establishes a grant program to fund crime-reduction initiatives by local law enforcement agencies; requires at least nine months of post-release supervision of all felons, which should reduce the recidivism rate; establishes risk, mental health and substance abuse assessments and evaluations before convicted felons are sentenced; and develops intermediary revocation facilities for nonviolent offenders who violate drug court regulations or conditions of probation and parole, which should ease prison overcrowding and save money. It’s expected the program will save $170 million in the next decade and provide $40 million to law enforcement agencies over a 10-year period to help pay for technology, overtime and targeting strategies such as hot-spot policing that increases police presence in high-crime areas, which can help prevent and reduce crime.

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