The conservative approach to criminal justice:
fighting crime, supporting victims, and protecting taxpayers.

Andrew Speno on Oklahoma’s State of Play: “Being A Better Steward of Our Resources” Is Needed

| December 7, 2016

In a recent interview, our Oklahoma state director Andrew Speno joined News Radio 1000 KTOK to discuss the state of play surrounding conservative criminal justice reform efforts in the state, particularly with regard to two ballot questions passed by voters in early November which reclassified various low-level felony drug possession and property offenses to misdemeanors, and allows savings from those changes to be reinvested into community rehabilitation programs.

Host Jason Doyle noted that criminal justice policy appeared to be coming to a head in the state legislature, which has been pursuing reform for several years now along with Governor Mary Fallin—who has made issues within that sphere a recent priority for her administration. Asked what it was in particular that was driving calls for justice reform, Speno stated that stubborn budgetary difficulties were a key impetus:

“I think the budget crisis of last year brought a lot of things to the surface…that we’re going to have to re-examine every dollar we spend.”

Speno explained that increased reliance on carceral sanctions—Oklahoma features the country’s highest incarceration rate for women and second-highest overall, behind Louisiana—has ballooned the state’s budget, which squeezes out other areas of government, contributes to persistent prison overcrowding, and isn’t providing a concomitant return on public safety or fiscal prudence:

“We need to start looking at what we’re spending our money on, and being a better steward of our resources. When it comes to corrections and criminal justice, our priority…is public safety, that’s number one, making sure we’re safe.”

Speno goes on to discuss the implications of State Questions 780 and 781, and how they set the stage for more comprehensive reform packages that are currently being investigated by the state’s Justice Reinvestment Task Force, which are modeled in part after successful initiatives that have passed in Texas and other southern red states.

Listen to the entire interview below:

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MICHAEL HAUGEN is a policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and its Right on Crime initiative.

His work for the Foundation has focused primarily on criminal justice reform topics, particularly civil forfeiture, prison reform and justice reinvestment, mens rea reform, occupational licensing, and various law enforcement and privacy issues. He’s also written about federal corporate subsidies, school choice, and gun rights.

Haugen is a graduate of Eastern Washington University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with Pre-Medicine Option, and a minor in Chemistry. He also holds an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies from North Idaho College. At EWU, he participated in academic research in a molecular microbiology laboratory for two years, investigating genetic virulence factors and pathophysiology in microbes.

A blogger on his personal site for the last two years, he has provided insight into current topics in the news, Second Amendment issues, pro-life advocacy, as well as commentary on various ballot initiatives that have arisen in his native Washington State in recent years. His writing has appeared in National Review, The Hill, Townhall, Washington Examiner, El Paso Times, Trib Talk, RedState, Ricochet, and Breitbart Texas.

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