Governor signs bills on justice reform (The Oklahoman)

by Randy Ellis 


Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday signed the last of three criminal justice reform measures that made it through the Legislature this past session, but said she was disappointed lawmakers failed to do more.

Fallin said her task force on criminal justice reform had recommended 12 bills, several of which offered much greater opportunities to relieve prison overcrowding and save taxpayers money by decreasing penalties for nonviolent offenses.

“Our prisons are way over capacity, and our prison population is expected to grow by 25 percent in the next 10 years,” Fallin said. “Oklahoma's overall incarceration rate is the second-highest in the country, and we lead the nation in female incarceration — incarcerating women at two-and-a-half times the national average. By 2018, we will have the highest incarceration rate in the country.”

“Some have said we are doing this too fast, that it took Texas six years to accomplish what we are trying to do in two,” the governor said. “Let's not forget, we are facing a dire financial situation to the tune of an additional $2 billion to incarcerate even more Oklahomans.”

Fallin signed Senate Bill 603 on Tuesday. It requires that offenders receive a risk and needs assessment and mandates that the Department of Corrections create an individualized case plan for each offender with a goal of lowering recidivism.

The governor earlier signed Senate Bill 604 and House Bill 2284. SB 604 requires training for law enforcement officials related to domestic violence and victim safety at the pretrial stage. HB 2284 calls for training for public defenders, district attorneys and judges. Training topics are to include substance abuse, behavioral health, and impact and dynamics of domestic violence.

Read the rest of the article at newsok.com.

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