Yesterday, the Oklahoma House and Senate passed a few criminal justice reform bills though the respective houses.
In the Senate, five bills passed with almost unanimous support. SB-650 passed unanimously to reduce the duration for which nonviolent offenders must wait to seek expungement of their records. SB-786 passed 35-3, to decrease minimum sentences for second-degree burglary offenders and creates a “third degree” of burglary covering automobile theft. SB-689 (passed 39-1) grants judges and prosecutors with more alternatives to prison such as treatment and/or supervision programs. SB 649 (39-1) decreased extra prison time requirements for non-violent criminals who offend again. Lastly, SB-793 (39-1) establishes the “Corrections and Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force” to follow the implementations of these programs and submit annual reports to the state legislature.
The House passed only two bills that focus on public safety as well. HB-2286 moved 83-5 supporting, requiring an administrative Pardon and Parole Board be established and nonviolent offenders be eligible for expanded parole to ensure that costly prison beds are used by serious offenders. Similarly, passed 80-3, HB-2281 decreases those incarcerated for low-level property crimes. This changes the standard for theft of property valued less than $1,000 from a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
With the passage of these seven bills, Oklahoma’s legislature can help make Oklahomans safer while being smart on crime. Americans for Tax Reform applauds the legislature’s efforts and urges them to continue their hard work to enact criminal justice reforms in the state.