Keeping the focus on Oklahoma's overcrowded prisons, Gov. Mary Fallin established a panel to look for ways to better treat nonviolent offenders with substance abuse problems and mental health issues, The Oklahoman reports. Oklahoma's incarceration rate is among the nation’s highest. “Many of our inmates are nonviolent offenders with drug abuse and alcohol problems who need treatment,” Fallin said. “Offering treatment can help them return to their communities as sober, healthy adults ready to support themselves and their families.” She established a committee made up of herself, the attorney general, the Senate president pro tem, the House speaker, the state Corrections Department director and the commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, or their designees. The governor or her designee will serve as chairman.
The panel is to develop a plan for implementing justice reform measures and present its findings by Dec. 31, 2016. In her inaugural address Monday, Fallin cited justice reform, public health problems and poor academic achievement as her top three issues. House Minority Leader Scott Inman said the provisions of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative are good and that they just need to be appropriately funded and implemented. “There is no need to kick the can down the road for two more years,” he said. Oklahoma plans its first execution tonight since the bungled lethal injection of Clayton Lockett in April. Charles Warner, 47, is to die for raping and killing an 11-month-old girl in 1997.