Gov. Mary Fallin said Friday she plans to move forward with criminal justice reform after voters approved a state question that will reduce the penalties for some violent crimes.
"The people of Oklahoma have decided that we can no longer afford to fill our prisons with individuals suffering from addiction; that strategy has been far too costly in dollars and in lives,”
Fallin said in a press release. “This historic vote reflects a fundamental change in the way our state understands and treats drug addiction, a disease that has destroyed too many of our families.
The full report is published at Bartlesville Radio
Oklahoma has the second- highest imprisonment rate in the country. It has the highest rate for women – a ranking the state has held since 1991. Moreover, Oklahoma’s prison population was projected to grow by approximately 10,000 inmates over the next 10 years.
While the passage of SQ 780 will help slow this growth, the state will continue to lock up greater numbers of Oklahomans, especially women. Currently, 70 percent of women and 67 percent of men incarcerated in the state prison system were sentenced for non-violent crimes or low-level drug offenses.
The women in Oklahoma prisons have a high rate of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental illness, often due to domestic violence or adverse childhood experiences. Studies have shown that incarcerated women are three times more likely to be the only parent in the home which leaves their children without their mother and their home.