Improved public safety and reduced spending on Oklahoma's prison system are the planned goals of a criminal justice system reform passed by the state's House of Representatives. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and other officials who earned a criminal justice degree or online criminal justice degree were on hand to observe Governor Mary Fallin sign the Oklahoma Justice Reinvestment Initiative bill.
“Today marks the beginning of a tougher, smarter fight against crime,” said House Speaker Kris Steele, a Shawnee Republican. “Police will get more resources, offenders will be held more accountable, prisons will have the space to incarcerate dangerous criminals and Oklahoma will be much safer as a result. We’re thrilled to have been part of the unprecedented collaboration across our entire criminal justice system that has delivered this meaningful law to the people of Oklahoma.”
House Bill 3052 also establishes a grant program to fund crime reduction initiatives by local law enforcement agencies, requires nine months of post-release supervision of felons, and offers other initiatives that are aimed at controlling prison growth. It also will establish mental health and substance abuse assessments and evaluations prior to sentencing of convicted felons.
Steele filed the bill in January, calling it the most pro-law enforcement initiative in recent history. Oklahoma government officials worked with the Council of State Governments Justice Center to develop the provisions. A key finding of the report from the parties showed that the state's law enforcement officials spent more time responding to 911 calls and providing basic services than completing in-depth investigations and deploying specialized units.
"According to police chiefs throughout the state, budget shortages have diminished the ability of law enforcement agencies to develop and deploy proactive strategies to reduce and prevent violent crime in their communities," read the report.