For seven months, experts in Oklahoma have studied, evaluated, debated and reimagined criminal justice in that state.
The result of their work is a report released this month that is aimed at reducing violent crime, providing better post-release supervision, and controlling expensive prison growth.
The experts came together under the Justice Reinvestment Working Group, a coalition of legislators (Republican House Speaker Kris Steele co-chaired the group) and private sector leaders, which was formed in partnership with the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center and the Pew Center on the States.
Proposals from the study include requiring post-release supervision for felony offenders, increased substance abuse treatment for drug offenders in lieu of long prison sentences, and earned-time credits for offenders. The report noted the usefulness of risk assessments and the low rates at which those assessments are currently used in Oklahoma. On the front end, the group suggested hot-spot policing to better combat and respond to crime.
The projected result would be cost-savings for Oklahoma taxpayers and reduced growth in prison populations, stemming the need for expensive prison construction.
This undertaking was rooted in experience: the Justice Center and Pew led similar efforts in other states, including Texas (which led, in part, to a $2 billion savings for Texas taxpayers). In fact, Representative Steele said the success of the effort in Texas, in conjunction with Right on Crime, played a role in encouraging lawmakers to undertake reform in Oklahoma.
Going forward, the working group will ensure input from all stakeholders, including prosecutors, to ensure that the criminal justice reform effort is widely supported and comprehensive.