State Lawmakers Consider Additional Bills To Reduce Prison Population

Thursday, April 6th 2017, 5:39 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

The Senate Public Safety Committee on Thursday passed four bills designed to reduce the state's prison population. 

Back in November, voters sent lawmakers a message that they wanted real criminal justice reform. Voters passed two measures that reduce penalties for certain non-violent crimes. On Thursday, a senate committee passed four bills that build on that momentum.

"In November, Oklahomans overwhelmingly passed the state questions demanding criminal justice reform. But that was step one. These four bills are steps two through five," said Andrew Speno with Right on Crime.

The first bill, HB2281, sets dollar amounts for theft and reduces sentencing for non-violent offenders. The second bill, HB 2284, provides mental health training for prosecutors. The third, HB 2286, increases parole for older and sick inmates.

"So by expanding parole allowing medical parole for prisoners who are geriatric or in a wheelchair and no longer pose a public safety threat, this will target them and get them out of the prison system saving us millions," said Speno.

The final bill, HB 2290, allows more non-violent offenders into drug court.

Two of the bills will go straight to the floor of the senate for a vote. The other two will go to the appropriations committee to determine their fiscal impact.