WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Oklahomans for Sentencing Reform, a diverse and bipartisan coalition of business and faith leaders, progressive and conservative advocates, and directly impacted people filed a constitutional ballot initiative that gives voters the opportunity to dramatically curb Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis.
This ballot measure would build upon last Monday’s historic day of commutations by further reducing the number of people in prison with extreme and unfair sentences. Currently, people can have years, decades, or even life in prison stacked on top of their sentence if they have ever been convicted of a crime in the past. The ballot initiative would end the use of these sentence enhancements for people convicted of nonviolent offenses, and allow people currently in prison due to an enhancement to petition for resentencing.
“Oklahoma has long struggled to shed its title as the highest incarcerating state in the country,” said Todd Schulte, President of FWD.us. “This is an important goal, but it is also not enough. Oklahomans can and should have a smarter, safer, and more humane criminal justice system, and today’s filing is a huge step towards that goal.”
For decades, Oklahoma has been one of the most punitive states in the nation. While there has been significant progress in the last few years, including the overwhelming passage of State Question 780 in 2016 and Governor Kevin Stitt’s groundbreaking commutation efforts, Oklahoma still has the second-highest imprisonment rate in the nation. This means that Oklahoma has more of its residents in prison today than any other state except for Louisiana.