A trio of smart, conservative criminal justice policies have been passed by the Oklahoma legislature and signed into law by Governor Stitt – Clean Slate, earned credits for parole, and occupational licensing reforms.

These are big wins for taxpayers who want to see a more effective, efficient criminal justice system that prioritizes public safety by reducing recidivism. All of them have a key thing in common: they offer a second chance to those who earn it the hard way.

“These commonsense, conservative policies will require people to do the work to earn a second chance. Smart incentives and hard work will improve public safety and help Oklahoma taxpayers,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.

Senate Bill 1691 removes unnecessary barriers to work for people leaving the criminal justice system. Currently, in many states, licensing boards have vague ‘moral character’ provisions that broadly ban anyone with a criminal record from being licensed. Some crimes certainly should prevent someone from participating in certain professions, but licensing boards should look at these instances with more precision. It is a waste to train someone in prison to become a barber and then ban them from working in the field.

Given how important a decent job is for reintegrating former offenders into the community, and helping to avoid them falling back into crime, this is a win for public safety, an economy in need of workers, and those leaving the system.

Also in a similar vein, House Bill 4369 will incentivize offenders on community supervision to follow the rules and participate in any treatment that is required of them. If they behave and improve themselves, they can have some of their supervision term reduced. By going to work, undergoing treatment, and following other terms of their supervision, these offenders are reducing the chance they get in new trouble, and contributing to their community. If they don’t, they lose credits.

This is a smart use of incentives to encourage constructive behavior, and free up supervision resources to focus on offenders who are more likely to cause problems – a boost for public safety.

Clean Slate, House Bill 3316, refers to automatic records sealing for people who committed a crime, served their time, and proved over years that they will not reoffend. Records for the convictions covered under the bill are only sealed after at least 5 years, and for more serious offenses 10 years – and any new conviction or pending charges would make the person ineligible.

Generally, most of records that become sealed automatically are for dismissed charges or proceedings that did not result in a conviction. Pennsylvania and Utah were the first states to lead the way on Clean Slate, and the results have been tremendous. Former offenders are incentivized to stay on the straight-and-narrow, and only after extensive periods of time can their records be sealed. On the off chance they reoffend after all that time, the court system still has access to the records and can still punish them more harshly than a first-time offender.

All of these bills require people who have committed crimes to put in the work to earn a second chance, they don’t give anything away. This work reduces recidivism, it also frees up taxpayer-funded resources to focus on offenders who are not improving, and thus are more likely to threaten public safety.

“We applaud Governor Stitt for signing these bills and continuing his conservative leadership on a wide variety of issues – from tax cuts to criminal justice. Oklahoma legislators deserve recognition for their leadership in prioritizing and advancing earned credits legislation, Clean Slate, and tax reforms this session,” added Norquist.

Conservative criminal justice policy puts public safety first, while protecting individual rights, and stewarding taxpayer resources wisely. Oklahoma is passing smart, conservative policies that allow for second chances, encourage work, and keep communities safe. Governor Stitt, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, Speaker Charles McCall, and the great sponsors of these bills deserve tremendous credit for enacting these bills.