OK votes in favor of criminal justice reform

Published: Nov. 9, 2016 at 5:12 PM CST
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KSWO) –Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved State Questions 780 and 781.

"Today, Oklahoma's voters have spoken loud and clear: it's time to take a smarter approach to public safety and finally reform Oklahoma's criminal justice system," said Kris Steele, chair of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform. "Because of the tremendous support we've received from Oklahomans everywhere, who fueled this effort, Oklahoma will take a major step toward reducing our prison population and investing in rehabilitation and treatment services to address the root causes of crime and better invest in public safety. This new approach is good for taxpayers, is good for small businesses, is good for public safety, and is good for families. We're proud that we are able to stand alongside Oklahomans today in taking this important and major step forward."

According to Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, the two state questions will set Oklahoma on a path toward pursuing a smarter approach to public safety by reducing the prison population, redirecting savings toward addressing the root causes of crime, and providing rehabilitation and treatment services to return people to productive lives in their communities.

"The criminal justice system's reliance on felony convictions has, for too long, turned too many of our fellow Oklahomans into second-class citizens who have a hard time finding employment and are unable to fully participate in civic life, said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma and former Member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. "Not only do these particular Oklahomans bear a significant burden, their families and communities also feel the impact.  This victory represents a historic step forward to put our collective energies towards the common goal of making our communities safer."

Oklahoma has the second-highest overall incarceration rate in the country and the highest incarceration rate for women. It costs taxpayers more than $500 million annually.

"For too long, Oklahoma's taxpayers have spent millions of dollars incarcerating our citizens, without addressing the conditions that lead people to commit crimes in the first place. By passing these ballot initiatives, Oklahomans have recognized that our state's resources would be better invested in rehabilitating low-level offenders through treatment and job training so they are able to obtain jobs and contribute to our economy.  I am proud to stand with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform not only in these ballot initiative victories, but also in the continuous push for reforms that will allow us to spend taxpayer money more efficiently and to improve our citizens' quality of life," said Clay Bennett, Owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chairman of Dorchester Capital Corporation.

More information about the 'Yes on 780 and 781' campaign, and Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, can be found by visiting https://www.okjusticereform.org/, @YesOn780And781, https://www.facebook.com/YesOn780And781/.

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