Lawmaker Wants To Help Reduce The State's Prison Population, Has Plan To Free 12,000 Inmates

Tuesday, November 12th 2019, 6:50 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

A rural Oklahoma legislator said he has a plan to dramatically reduce the state’s prison population, and he said it won’t cost taxpayers another dime. 

The plan would be to release some 12,000 non-violent inmates, and to use the money saved from housing them to rehabilitate them.

Representative Justin “JJ” Humphrey (R) Lane knows a thing or two about the criminal justice system. He worked in corrections for more than 20 years. And with Oklahoma’s per-capita incarceration rate among the highest in the world, he said what most of us already know the system is broken. But Humphrey said he has a plan to fix it by releasing inmates and using the savings to hire more probation officers.

“Under my model we put about 40 inmates out to each officer, that more than pays for the officer. It also pays for the equipment to put on the ankle, and we get really, really high-tech equipment that we can really track these people,” said Humphrey.

Humphrey said those released would have to take regular drug tests and they’d have to be employed.

“Under my plan we put them to work, they would have to work, everything is around work. Because we know if you want to change substance abuse to criminal behavior, work is one of the number one things we can do to change that,” he said.

Often district attorneys strike plea deals, so someone who doesn’t appear violent on paper really is in person. News 9 asked Humphrey about that.

“What I want to do is begin assessing people the minute they get to jail. And what I want to do is do multiple assessments based on your past,” Humphrey responded.

DAs say the plan sounds good in theory but, “DOC has done a bad job monitoring people on ankle monitors in the past. And unless we’re able to redo that monitoring system where it’s meaningful, where we don’t have people on GPS monitors raping people and dealing drugs, then it’s not going to be a meaningful release,” said Pottawatomie County DA Allan Grubb.

“The path we’re on is not working,” said Humphrey. “We need to find a new system.”

Humphrey said he hasn’t drafted any legislation just yet. He said right now he just wants to get the conversation going.