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Fallin Green Lights Deal for Criminal Justice Reform Laws

07-Mar-2018

Since last year, several criminal justice reform bills have been on hold, unable to pass legislation amid disagreements between prosecutors and Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform. Now, reports say, Governor Mary Fallin and legislators have reached an agreement with prosecutors to modify and pass several criminal justice reform laws, including one bill which never received a hearing last session.

The primary intent of these reforms is to allow a reduction in the state prison population by creating lesser punishments for lesser-value property crimes and by providing earlier eligibility for parole in certain situation.

Five of the bills were blocked from final passage last year:

  • House Bill 2281 would create a tiered structure for penalizing property crimes, with crimes involving lower property value receiving lighter punishments.
  • House Bill 2286 is intended to streamline the state's parole process and would include additional guidelines for the parole of elderly and infirm inmates.
  • Senate Bill 649 is aimed at a penalty's "enhancements" which create longer sentences for the involvement of certain elements of an offense. It would reduce the length of extra sentencing nonviolent offenders receive for being repeat offenders.
  • Senate Bill 689 is intended to reduce long prison sentencing for drug crimes by giving judges and prosecutors more discretion in allowing drug treatment and supervision programs in lieu of prison.
  • Senate Bill 786 removes the mandatory minimum sentence for second degree burglary, and it adds a new offense, third degree burglary.

The sixth bill is based on House Bill 2293, which did not receive a hearing last year. That bill would have enacted penalties for drug crimes based upon the weight of the drug. 

Additionally, Fallin advised that the state will create a criminal justice coordinating council to analyze Oklahoma's existing crime laws and suggest " wholesale changes." 

This time of year is always interesting as legislators propose and bicker over new laws. We will stay abreast of any new criminal laws and criminal justice reform laws to talk about how these changes to the Oklahoma Criminal Code affect you.



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