There have been heroes of justice reform in this legislature, as well. One such example is Rep. Bobby Cleveland, of Lexington. He and some co-authors proposed a reform wherein inmates showing exemplary personal conduct could begin accruing early release points. Those points cannot be assigned until they've served 85% of their sentence. Cleveland wants to acknowledge these points early one, then apply them at the 85% mark of the incarceration.
But Sykes single-handedly killed that bill as well as many other reforms. Sykes chairs the Judicial Committee of the Senate. In that authority, he can simply refuse any bill and deny any discussion or vote on the measure. Sykes declared to Cleveland, in the hall of the capitol;
"I ain't gunna do nothing that's soft on crime!" - Anthony Sykes
And thus the 'tough guy' mindset continues to govern Oklahoma law since the early days of the Keating administration. Oklahoma has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. And the US has the highest national rate in the developed world. Oklahoma has the highest female incarceration rates.
Our Sooner State punishes victim-less crimes and our taxpayers are forced to pay for the expense on incarceration. A first-time offense of unauthorized possession of a controlled drug carries a 5 year maximum sentence. To apply that punishment, the taxpayers must shell out all the legal and court costs of prosecution, then another $125,000 to house that individual. Ad there's the hidden cost of the affected family who may have lost a provider or caretaker. Foster care and welfare programs take a huge hit. A family gets broken up and children may grow up without a parent to guide them properly. Hence, the cycle repeats itself.
Opinion of the Editor
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David Van Risseghem is the Director of Sooner Politics.org. The resource is committed to informing & mobilizing conservative Oklahomans for civic reform. This endeavor seeks to utilize the efforts of all cooperative facets of the Conservative movement...