Legislator Kills Oklahoma Criminal Justice Reform

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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin called out a House committee chairman for bottling up criminal justice reform bills as time ticked down on efforts to enact meaningful reforms. The plea accomplished little, The Oklahoman reports. Chairman Scott Biggs killed four key reform measures. Rep. Cory Williams complained, “You have one person that is holding up criminal justice reform in the state of Oklahoma despite the will of the people.”

The bills would have limited time that could be tacked on to a nonviolent offender’s sentence due to prior convictions for nonviolent crimes, allowed judges and prosecutors more options in diverting people from prison to treatment and supervision programs, made easier for offenders to obtain expungements of their records, and reduced prison sentences for low-value property crimes. Fallin had said the legislation was critical for reducing prison overcrowding and saving the state money. Biggs argued the state was trying to do too much, too fast. “It took Texas six years to do what we tried to do in one session,” Biggs said. “We simply could not accomplish it, especially given the fact we have zero funding opportunities for these programs.”

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