District Attorneys Speak Out Against SQ 805

Monday, October 26th 2020, 5:22 pm
By: Tevis Hillis

State law allows prosecutors the power to enhance sentencing criminals to more time in prison if they previously were found guilty of a felony.

State Question 805 would prohibit that for anyone convicted of a nonviolent crime.

"State Question 805 would take away a tool in a prosecutor's toolbox to give some safety to our domestic violence victims," said Jeff Smith, District Attorney for Latimer and LeFlore counties.

But for those in favor of SQ 805, they said the safeguards would remain in place for those who commit acts of violence, including all domestic violence felonies.

"The reality is that Oklahoma is spending well over half a billion dollars a year to incarcerate nonviolent offenders," said Kris Steele with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform who supports SQ 805.

The state legislature defines a nonviolent crime as things like fraud or drug possession.

State law further defines violent crimes like shooting intent to kill or child abuse.

"When we send someone to prison for a nonviolent crime, we add in that judgment and sentence that that person can be eligible for a suspended sentence upon a completion program in prison," said Orvil Loge, District Attorney for Muskogee County.

"Anyone convicted of a nonviolent crime will still go to prison but in the range of punishment established by the state legislator," said Steele. 

Prosecutors are not the only ones concerned about SQ 805.

Oklahoma sheriffs came out against it recently, but conservative groups like Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform have come out in favor of the measure. Actress Scarlett Johansson also came out in favor of the measure.