Three Major Criminal Justice Reforms Pass House - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Three Major Criminal Justice Reforms Pass House

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK- Three bills advancing criminal justice reform passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

“Our state is struggling to deal with over-incarceration,” said State Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa. “Oklahoma has the second highest imprisonment rate in the country and corrections currently costs the state half a billion dollars annually. These measures protect the public, but at the same time offer legitimate alternatives to imprisonment. This will both save the state money and more than meet our public safety goals.”

House Bill 2281 creates graduated penalties for those accused of certain larceny or forgery crimes, reducing some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and modifying fines as well as the mandatory lengths of sentences. House Bill 2284 would require public defenders to receive continuing education training regarding best treatment practices for defendants with substance abuse or mental health problems and would require training for judges and state prosecutors on how to best deal with victims of domestic violence and trauma.  House Bill 2286 would allow some nonviolent state inmates to apply for parole after serving one-fourth of their sentence if they have earned enough credits instead of the one-third now required. The bill also requires additional Pardon and Parole Board member training and better mental health and substance abuse treatment standards.

The bills were part of the recommendation of the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force and are intended to eliminate the need for more than 7,800 prison beds at an estimated savings of about $148.7 million.

The measures now move to the state Senate for consideration.

Information provided by Oklahoma House of Representatives.

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