WASHINGTON, DC – FWD.us Senior Director of Criminal Justice Reform Zoë Towns issued the following statement today following Governor Mary Fallin’s signing of key justice reform bills in Oklahoma:
“We applaud Governor Mary Fallin for signing a package of urgently-needed reforms to Oklahoma’s criminal justice system. We congratulate legislative leaders who championed these bills, including Senate President Mike Schulz (R), House Speaker Charles McCall (R), Representative Terry O’Donnell (R), Senator Greg Treat (R), Senator Wayne Shaw (R), Rep. Chris Kannady (R), and Rep. Ben Loring (D).
“Today, Governor Fallon announced that Oklahoma has recently surpassed Louisiana to become the highest incarcerating state in the nation. In addition to being the highest incarcerator, for years Oklahoma has imprisoned more women per capita than any other state. With the signing of the Justice Reform Task Force bills today, Governor Fallin and Oklahoma lawmakers have demonstrated Oklahoma’s commitment to correcting course and establishing a smarter, more fair, and more effective criminal justice system.
“The bills signed today will build safer communities and stronger families by reducing sentences for nonviolent offenses, making sure people who comply with their in-prison case plans are released on parole, and halting the practice of imprisoning people who cannot afford to pay fines and fees. These reforms are projected to reduce the prison population by 4,851 people over the next 10 years.
“Governor Fallin has demonstrated strong leadership in advancing criminal justice reform. In light of today’s announcement that Oklahoma is now the top incarcerating state, we strongly urge Oklahoma lawmakers to continue to make criminal justice reform a priority. FWD.us is eager to continue our work alongside a broad network of in-state and national partners to build on this progress.”