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OK state representative says criminal justice reform needs more than SQ780 gives

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:52 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - A Southeastern Oklahoma state representative announced he wants to amend state question 780 in order to improve criminal justice reform.

The measure was passed five years ago. The hope was that by making crimes like drug possession and low-level property crimes misdemeanors, prison populations would decrease.

Then S.Q. 781, which also passed, required the money saved by not housing another inmate to go to substance abuse and mental health services in order to help stop the cycle of offending over and over again.

District 19 representative Justin Humphrey said it’s hard to measure the effect that S.Q. 780 had on Oklahoma, but most people he’s talked to don’t think it’s working.

“We’ve got people claiming 780 is a success, but we don’t have a lot of data to show it,” Humphrey said. “If you go out and listen to the experts-we’ve got judges, we’ve got sheriffs departments, we’ve got police departments saying that we’ve got a lot of crime occurring that nobody is getting arrested on. We’ve got a lot of crime occurring where people are getting repeat, repeat misdemeanors without any real supervision.”

Humphrey said if the crime keeps happening, it makes more sense to increase the punishment.

“I don’t have a problem if a person gets a misdemeanor, I don’t even think they may need supervision the first time,” Humphrey said. “Second time, we put them under supervision. If they continue in a pattern, they’re ordered inpatient treatment. Just common sense progressive discipline.”

He said court fees should be re-evaluated too.

“Paying for everything in the whole state on the backs of these substance abuse people and criminals is not right,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey said instead those fees should fund a justice system that tries to prevent criminals from committing the same crime again.

Humphrey said he doesn’t like the idea of someone just sitting around in prison when they could be learning a skill or improving their chances of success once they get out.

“When we train these people and get them certified, we can put them out on ankle monitors, leave them as inmates in the community on ankle monitors.” Humphrey said. “Iif they do not follow supervision specs we can bring them back in because we keep them as inmates. So they get to get out, they can get a place, they start paying taxes.”

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