Oklahomans have a substantive opportunity to implement criminal justice reform. Oklahoma County has taken the initiative to uncover ways to reduce its bloated jail population through the creation of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council. It’s an effective coalition of public and private sector entities working together to reform the system – which has universally been acknowledged as unsustainable. The council was created after the State Legislature failed to pass inmate-reduction and safety increasing measures this year. Last year, the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce commissioned the Vera Institute to conduct a study on criminal justice in Oklahoma County. The newly established council implements a few of the recommendations from that study. Legislative leaders should pay attention to the results of these reforms because the impact is so closely tied to the business success of the state.
With U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions planning to visit the state in October to discuss criminal justice reform with the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association, the coalition has an opportunity to showcase their reforms and show that reductions in jail population while increasing public safety and reducing the burden on taxpayers is possible.