OK Gov Releases Records on Justice Reinvestment; Most Reforms Unfunded


Fifteen months after the Tulsa World requested public records relating to Oklahoma’s now-gutted Justice Reinvestment Initiative, Gov. Mary Fallin's office has released more than 8,000 records related to the prison reforms. The World is reviewing thousands of records to uncover answers as to what happened to the much-heralded package of reforms aimed at curbing prison growth that quickly lost momentum — and funding — after the governor signed the law in May 2012. Fallin's spokesman Alex Weintz said the long delay on the open records request was because of the volume of records reviewed by the Governor's Office and confusion by staff members.

Early news reports shifted from how the law could reform Oklahoma's prison system to how the governor's budget didn't include funding for most reforms earlier proclaimed “much-needed.” airmen of the committee that was to implement those reforms resigned in frustration over what they alleged were attempts by the Governor's Office to thwart progress. In October, Justin Jones — one of the reforms' top advocates — resigned from his longtime job as director of the Department of Corrections. The initiative called for drug and alcohol treatment and mental health evaluations to defer more people from prison and mandatory supervision for those leaving prison. Most of the reforms remain unfunded, and only a handful of changes have been implemented in slow, small steps. Oklahoma's prisons continue to hover near 99 percent capacity with only about 60 percent of the staff required to operate them.

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