Former Texas Lawmaker In Oklahoma To Talk About Criminal Justice Reform


Wednesday, April 3rd 2019, 6:36 pm


A former Texas legislator, credited with orchestrating criminal justice reform in the Lone Star State, was in Oklahoma Wednesday talking with lawmakers here about reducing the prison population.  

Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate in the nation, and prisons remain overcrowded. Meanwhile, just to our south in Texas they’re closing prisons.

You can credit former Texas state representative Jerry Madden with that. He is in town talking with Oklahoma lawmakers. Madden says we are off to a good start, reducing penalties for low level non-violent crimes.

“I think you started to take steps to change penalties that are smarter. That does make good correctional policy,” said Madden.

Now, Madden says like Texas, Oklahoma should focus on mental health and substance abuse services.

“We opened up substantial numbers of substance abuse beds, almost 5,000 because we found there were prisoners that were coming to the prisons of Texas who were obviously drug addicted,” he said.

And it worked.

 “We’ve closed eight prisons. Eight. We’ve reduced our prison population by roughly 10 or11,000,” said Madden.

“We took our juvenile population down from about 4,600 down to about 800...Recidivism is down. Our crime rates are the lowest they’ve been since the 60s,” he continued.

Madden is recommending Oklahoma lawmakers look at whether the programs we have work. If they don’t, nix them and use the funding for projects that do work.

“I had three committees. One that looked at probation, we had one that looked at programs within the systems, see whether they’re working then we had one that did the financial and data,” he explained.

Representative Shane Stone (D) Oklahoma City said, “I’m in agreement with this ultra conservative republican from Texas, which is something I never expected to say.” 

Stone says the problem is, often politics get in the way of good policy when lawmakers are afraid of looking soft on crime.

“So, they feel politically pressured to vote that way and even when they’re going to vote that way they feel pressured not to put any teeth behind it,” said Stone.

Oklahomans passed State Question 780, reclassifying some non-violent crimes as misdemeanors in 2016. There’s a bill working its way through the legislature to make that retroactive. That could affect thousands of criminal sentences. 

Read Also: New Bill Would Reduce Sentences For Non-Violent Offenders 

 

","published":"2019-04-03T23:36:59.000Z","updated":"2019-04-03T23:34:53.000Z","summary":"A former Texas legislator, credited with orchestrating criminal justice reform in the Lone Star State, was in Oklahoma Wednesday talking with lawmakers here about reducing the prison population. Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate in the nation, a","affiliate":{"_id":"5cc353fe1c9d440000d3b70f","callSign":"kwtv","origin":"https://www.news9.com"},"contentClass":"politics_state","createdAt":"2020-01-31T19:08:02.913Z","updatedAt":"2020-05-13T20:51:01.900Z","__v":2,"show":true,"link":"/story/5e347b12527dcf49dad73999/former-texas-lawmaker-in-oklahoma-to-talk-about-criminal-justice-reform","hasSchedule":false,"id":"5e347b12527dcf49dad73999"};