With Oklahoma’s prison population well over capacity, talks between the governor's office and a national nonprofit have some advocates wondering: Is 2015 the year for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma? The Oklahoman says Gov. Mary Fallin’s office met with representatives of the Council of State Governments Justice Center. The group helped the state formulate a Justice Reinvestment Initiative that the legislature passed in 2012.
Yet a dedicated funding source was never put in place and a committee formed to implement the program clashed with the governor's office before disbanding. The fact that Oklahoma locks up more people per capita than almost any other state means more Oklahomans are affected by the issue, said former House Speaker Kris Steele. The political climate has become so focused on being “tough on crime” it is difficult to implement change. “The real test is going to be if [Fallin] tries to test the water and move forward, what happens when somebody stands up and says 'Governor Fallin is being soft on crime,'” Steele said.