A battle is brewing between the governor and a state representative over criminal justice reform. Representative Scott Biggs (R) District 51 came under fire last session for holding up bills that were designed to reduce the prison population.
Backers say the bills would save the state $200,000,000 a year. Biggs says the state just isn't clear about it's classification of felonies.
"You hear all this low level nonviolent offender. That's never been defined in Oklahoma Statute. Never,” Biggs said. “So what we're doing is taking the steps to define what is violent and non violent in Oklahoma Statute, in the criminal code."
Biggs is doing that by sending out a survey to 150 lawmakers and advocates, trying to classify 682 felonies on the books as "Violent", “Non Violent" or a "Danger to the public."
"(A) sex offender driving the ice cream truck. Everyone's going to agree that's non violent but does it pose a danger to the public? I say it does," Biggs said.
The governor sent a letter to Biggs, refusing to take part in the survey because she says his comments are "misleading at best" and "devoid of any basis in fact."
"In her letter, she admits there are violent crimes that are classified wrongly in her bills, or whatever, but she doesn't want to take steps to correct that,” Biggs said. “Which is mind boggling to me."
Criminal justice reform advocate Andrew Speno with Right on Crime questions the purpose of the survey. "All crimes are a danger to the public. That's why they're crimes," Speno said. “I just don't understand what the point is."
Biggs says unless he gets the answers he's looking for he won't hear the bills next session.