The "Law & Order" governor, Frank Keating; gave us some of our most draconian legislative efforts to end crime in Oklahoma. But the unintended result is a bankrupt state with one of the world's highest incarceration rates. In fact, Oklahoma incarcerates more women than any other state. Even totalitarian regimes don't imprison as many citizens as does Oklahoma.
Frank Keating came to the Governor's mansion with a background in the FBI and other federal departments. He had several years of frustration with red tape keeping him and other agents from going after 'bad guys'.
Among the 'bad guys' were the folks who were not violent at all. Keating's administration brought some controversial '3 strikes' policies and some critics accused his administration of essentially condemning the noncompliant to life in confinement even though they never posed a real threat to the public.
Keating brought in many of his federal friends including Bob Ricks (the mastermind of the plan which left scores of Branch Davidians dead, in Waco, TX). Keating also brought in a policy of doing business with 'for profit' private prisons. Some of those for profit prison administrators have a history of 'buying' business deals with campaign contributions. Some of them were hundreds of miles out of state. Clergy sometimes criticized the practice as hostile toward Christian values of visiting those imprisoned.
Oklahoma's law enforcement has a culture of selectively going after the poor. Some laws are not enforced in the wealthy parts of town, but strictly enforced in poor neighborhoods only because prosecutors think the latter scenario is far more dangerous and 'full of crime'. Never mind that a recent senate leader just confessed to embezzling well over a million dollars over a span of more than a decade, but will only be incarcerated about a year.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court just announced a scathing rebuke of Attorney General Scott Pruitt. The Tulsa World reports:
In its ruling, the state’s high court rewrote the ballot titles, which give a description of the criminal justice reform measures appearing on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot.
Supporters of State Questions 780 and 781 challenged Pruitt’s revisions before the Supreme Court.
- SQ 780 would reclassify certain low-level offenses — such as drug possession and some property offenses of less than $1,000 — as misdemeanors instead of felonies. If approved by voters, supporters say, SQ 780 would generate cost savings for the state by reducing the growing prison population.
- SQ 781 would invest the cost savings into rehabilitation programs to treat addiction and mental health conditions.
“We find the rewritten ballot titles to be misleading and partial,” the court opinion states. “However, we conclude neither of the parties’ proposed ballot titles sufficiently describe the measures involved.”
Will Gattenby, a Pruitt spokesman said; “The Attorney General’s Office is disappointed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision and we believe the substitute ballot title does not adequately explain the effects of the measure,”.
The measures were championed by former House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, and Rep. George Young, D-Oklahoma City. Steele and Young were among those filing a challenge to Pruitt’s rewritten ballot title.
“I truly believe the process has worked the way it is intended to work,” Steele said. “I commend the Supreme Court for doing their job with dispatch. I think that the Supreme Court’s description of the reforms contained in State Question 780 and State Question 781 are accurate. The reforms that the voters will be asked to consider in November will be easy to understand based on the Supreme Court’s decision.”
Read more at the Tulsa World