Gov. Stitt can save Oklahoma millions through parole reform

Gov. Stitt’s State of the State address signaled a serious desire to make criminal justice reform a signature piece of his agenda. He’s made positive comments regarding several bipartisan bills filed this legislative session aimed at stemming Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis. However, there are… Read more [More...]

Finding the courage to say “no more prisons” (Capitol Update)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. “We’re not going to build any more prisons.” I remember House Speaker Dan Draper making that declarative… Read more [More...]

Parole is broken in Oklahoma. Here’s how we fix it.

Incarceration is expensive in Oklahoma. The cost of our overcrowded prisons is projected to skyrocket in the next decade. The Department of Corrections requested $1.5 billion next year to address long-neglected repairs and to build a new prison to keep up with the… Read more [More...]

The Oklahoma City Police Department shows the promise of local justice reform

Most discussions about criminal justice in Oklahoma center on our prison system, which is responsible for maintaining our highest-in-the-world incarceration rate but is dangerously underfunded. While our high incarceration rate may be the most pressing issue, law enforcement agencies are the… Read more [More...]

Funding postsecondary education for incarcerated Oklahomans could pay off for public safety and the budget

Oklahoma has made encouraging progress on justice reform in recent years. Reforms passed in 2016 and 2018 will slow prison population growth and spur investments in rehabilitation. While these are important steps in the right direction, criminal justice reform should… Read more [More...]

In its first year, SQ 780 reversed 10 years of growth in felony filings

New data shows that State Question 780 reduced felony filings by over 14,000 across Oklahoma’s District Courts in its first year in a major realignment of how the state deals with low-level offenses. SQ 780, approved by voters by a… Read more [More...]

Property crime decreased in Oklahoma as SQ 780 reduced punishments

Before 2016, stealing a smartphone in Oklahoma could be charged as a felony with the possibility of prison time. The passage of SQ 780 raised the felony theft threshold in Oklahoma from $500 to $1000, meaning a person has to steal… Read more [More...]

OKPolicyCast 40: In prison for what’s now a misdemeanor (with Damion Shade and Colleen McCarty)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry and produced by Gene Perry and Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover,… Read more [More...]

Three priorities for criminal justice reform (Capitol Update)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. There’s a growing consensus that “criminal justice reform” should be an important part of the change we… Read more [More...]

Making recent justice reforms retroactive is smart policy – and a moral necessity

Voters passed State Questions 780 and 781 last year in response to Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis. These measures reclassified simple drug possession and several low-level property crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies and directed the savings toward treatment and rehabilitation services.… Read more [More...]