“In Oklahoma, which has the second highest incarceration rate of Black people in the country, prison admissions for Black people increased by 50% during the pandemic.”
Many of us are so grateful for a new year, especially after the pain and uncertainty we experienced in 2020. But for thousands of Oklahoma families harmed by the state’s extreme sentencing laws, this year won’t offer a turning point unless the legislature passes long overdue criminal justice reform.
Oklahoma’s prison system has been in a crisis fueled by sentencing laws that keep people in prison for decades. These long sentences don’t make Oklahoma safer and cost taxpayers over half a billion dollars each year. At a time when budgets are shrinking, those are precious dollars Oklahoma should be investing in crime survivor services and drug and mental health treatment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare existing vulnerabilities in Oklahoma’s communities and disparities in its institutions. This is true especially of its criminal justice system. In Oklahoma, which has the second highest incarceration rate of Black people in the country, prison admissions for Black people increased by 50% during the pandemic.