Oklahoma ballot question proposes criminal justice reform

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 6:11 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Oklahoma (KXII) - As election day draws near, Oklahomans will soon have a chance to decide on a criminal justice reform proposal.

State Question 805 proposes wiping the slate clean for non violent criminals.

Marshall County Sheriff Danny Cryer said he doesn’t agree with it at all.

“It takes away any previous convictions for nonviolent crimes which essentially makes every offense a first offense,” Cryer said. “There’s no accountability for previous crimes if this passes.”

But Oklahoma for Criminal Justice Reform director Kris Steele said it’s what Oklahoma needs. Right now the state has the highest per capita crime and incarceration rates in the country-- right above Mississippi.

Steele said this is because while most states have a sentence enhancement policy after multiple offenses, Oklahoma and Mississippi are the only states that apply it to both violent and non violent offenders.

“It’s not leading to any sort of reduction in crime or increase in public safety,” Steele said.

But Cryer said that’s not true. He said this question would make it harder for him to keep drugs off the streets of Marshall County.

On Tuesday the Marshall County Sheriff’s office arrested a man with over a hundred grams of meth.

But when they booked him in the jail, they realized he had already been in prison three times for the same crime-selling meth.

“If 805 had already passed, we couldn’t hold those previous convictions for distribution of drugs against him in this conviction,” Cryer said. “It’s just like a first conviction, which would result in a much lesser sentence and put him back on our streets much quicker.”

Cryer said most criminals he deals with are re-offenders, and voting no will keep them off the streets.

Steele said voting yes will put Oklahoma back in line with other state’s crime rates.

“The people in our state are not worse than the people in any other state.”

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