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May 6, 2011

Oklahoma on verge of joining states enacting significant prison and sentencing reforms

As detailed in this local article, which is headlined "Prison reform bill heads to Oklahoma governor,"in the Sooner State a "bill intended to relieve prison overcrowding and reduce the strain it places on the state budget is on the way to the governor." Here are the specifics:

The House of Representatives on Thursday approved House Bill 2131, which among other things would expand both the use of community sentencing programs and the electronic monitoring of low-risk, nonviolent inmates.  It’s the first significant piece of legislation favoring alternative sentences for nonviolent offenders.  Legislators over the years have passed “tough on crime” measures that have increased penalties and prison sentences, a key reason why Oklahoma’s incarceration rate routinely ranks in the top five nationally.

The state’s prison population has grown from 22,600 in 2000 to nearly 26,000, with the Corrections Department’s budget increasing from $366 million to $483 million. More than half of the state’s inmates are in prison for nonviolent offenses.  The system is now at 96 percent capacity, but because of budget shortfalls, is staffed at 69 percent of authorized levels, according to the speaker’s office.

House Speaker Kris Steele, the author of the measure, said the bill is expected to save the Corrections Department at least $5 million a year.  But those savings would occur over time as more nonviolent offenders are sentenced to community service or are monitored with electronic devices. Both methods are far less expensive than keeping inmates in prison.

In Oklahoma, it costs about $56 a day to incarcerate someone; by comparison, it costs about $3.50 a day to send an offender to supervised community sentencing and electronic monitoring costs about $4.75 a day, according to the speaker’s office.  “We cannot afford to continue on the current path with our incarceration policies,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “This bill shows we are serious about changing course to be smarter on crime.”

May 6, 2011 at 08:05 AM | Permalink

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Comments

House Bill 2131 is deliberately a piece of new signed Bill. Lets just hope this bill would fairly be implemented.

Posted by: Superannuation Rules | Nov 23, 2011 9:19:39 PM

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