Reclassification Council’s recommendations will increase Oklahoma’s prison population

OKLAHOMA — Research and Policy Director Felicity Rose issued the following statement regarding the recommendations adopted today by the Attorney General’s Criminal Justice Reclassification Coordination Council:

“Unfortunately, the recommendations adopted today by the Criminal Justice Reclassification Coordination Council will ultimately increase the state’s prison population, cost taxpayers more money, and not increase public safety. They do not meet the Council's own mandate to hold neutral or reduce the state’s prison population.

Oklahoma already has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. Oklahomans serve longer in prison than the national average for drug offenses (79% longer) and property offenses (70% longer) despite a large body of research demonstrating that excessively long prison terms do not improve public safety. The Council’s efforts to “standardize” sentences will increase the time people spend behind bars even further.

Our impact analysis found that the Council’s proposal to establish minimum time served requirements for all felonies would increase the state’s prison population by almost 1,000 people and cost taxpayers between $20 million and $83 million in additional prison expenditures over the next 10 years.

These recommendations will damage the state’s progress on criminal justice reform. We urge the Council to work with state and national criminal justice reform experts, advocates, and directly impacted communities to develop a proposal that will address the incarceration crisis and make Oklahoma a stronger, safer state.”

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