Oklahoma has the second highest imprisonment rate in the country and the highest rate of imprisonment among women, a distinction Oklahoma has held since 1991. Locking up these offenders comes at a great cost to the state as Oklahoma currently spends half a billion dollars annually on corrections, at a time when our state is in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis.
Absent further reform, the Oklahoma prison population is projected to grow 25% in the next ten years, reaching over 35,700 beds. The state’s prisons are already over-capacity, and Oklahoma will have to build or lease three new prisons, two for males and one for females, to cope with this growth.
This will cost taxpayers $1.2 billion in capital expenditures and an additional $700 million in operating costs over 10 years.
- Focus prison beds on serious and violent offenders;
- Improve and enhance release and reentry practices;
- Strengthen probation and parole supervision;
- Ensure oversight and accountability; and
- Provide better support to victims of crime.
If adopted by the legislature, the package of criminal justice reforms would reduce the projected prison population by 9,370 beds, resulting in an 8% reduction in the current prison population and $1.9 billion in averted spending over the next decade.
Oklahomans Call for Action
Governor Mary Fallin: “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.”
Clay Bennett: “We’re past a state of emergency in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system, we’ve reached the point of desperation. We must engage on these issues and make progress very quickly. As business leaders, we support the Governor’s statewide criminal justice reform efforts and we stand ready to support bold recommendations from the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Reform Task Force.”
Jan Peery and Diane Barker-Herold, crime victims’ advocates: “Diverting low-level, nonviolent offenders into effective alternatives such as supervision with treatment makes our communities stronger and saves resources for services for domestic violence victims.”
The ACU Foundation Center for Criminal Justice Reform joined coalition partners ATR, FAMM, Prison Fellowship, Right on Crime, TPPF, and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs in writing a letter in support of the recommendations given by the Justice Reform Task Force: