Justice Reinvestment

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Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is among the highest in the nation and spending on corrections has increased 41 percent over the past decade, yet crime rates have fallen less than most other states. This suggests that additional public safety benefits are not being generated despite Oklahoma’s increased investment in corrections. To address this challenge, the Oklahoma Legislature passed House Bill 2131, a bill designed to make the criminal justice system more efficient and cost-effective. The bill was signed into law in May.

The combined elements of the bill are anticipated to ease the fiscal and social strains caused by Oklahoma’s prison overcrowding. However, a comprehensive analysis of the criminal justice system is needed to determine the best way to pursue additional reforms. Policymakers are interested in conducting an extensive evaluation to identify additional policies for holding offenders accountable in a way that uses tax dollars efficiently and, most importantly, improves public safety.

To address these issues, Governor Mary Fallin, Speaker of the House Kris Steele, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and Supreme Court Justice James Edmondson expressed interest in employing a justice reinvestment strategy, which is a data-driven approach to reduce corrections spending and reinvest a portion of the savings generated in strategies that will increase public safety. To this end, Oklahoma sought assistance from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Pew Center on the States.

The state leaders agreed to establish a bipartisan, interbranch working group comprised of leading state officials which would receive intensive technical assistance from the Council of State Governments Justice Center in partnership with the Pew Center on the States. The CSG JusticeCenter will assist the working group in analyzing data and developing a comprehensive set of policy options.

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  • Working Group

    Speaker Kris Steele, Co-Chair
    Oklahoma House of Representatives
    Don Millican, Co-Chair
    Chairman, Oklahoma Christian University Board of Trustees
    Senator Patrick Anderson
    Oklahoma Senate
    Trent Baggett
    Assistant Executive Coordinator, Oklahoma District Attorneys Council
    Currie Ballard
    Member, Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board
    Representative Lisa Billy
    Oklahoma House of Representatives
    Allyson Carson
    Victim Services Coordinator, Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office
    Secretary Terry Cline
    Oklahoma Department of Health
    Rebecca Frazier
    Assistant General Counsel, Oklahoma Office of the Governor
    Director Howard Hendrick
    Oklahoma Department of Human Services
    Representative Scott Inman
    Oklahoma House of Representatives
    The Honorable Arlene Johnson
    Presiding Judge, Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
    Director Justin Jones
    Oklahoma Department of Corrections
    Melissa McLawhorn Houston
    Policy Director and Assistant Attorney General, Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office
    Ken McNair
    Executive Director, Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association
    Senator Jonathan Nichols
    Oklahoma Senate
    Senator Andrew Rice
    Oklahoma Senate
    Amy Santee
    Senior Program Officer, George Kaiser Family Foundation
    Commissioner Terri White
    Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services