Harsh sentences aren’t always required to achieve justice (Capitol Update)

When they want to, prosecutors will agree that a harsh sentence is not always necessary to achieve justice. The goal of criminal justice reform is to get them to want to more often. [More...]

Flat state budget ahead? It’s not that simple. (Capitol Update)

Last month, the Oklahoma State Board of Equalization held its first meeting for the purpose of certifying how much money the legislature will have to appropriate for the budget year beginning July 1, 2020, when it convenes in February. The current economy on the current tax rates has produced what amounts to a level budget going forward next year. But with state finance it is never that simple. [More...]

Where is the focus on sentencing reform? (Capitol Update)

Instead of a determined effort to fulfill its charge of classifying felonies with an eye toward reducing the prison population, the Council spent the year discussing improvements that should be made everywhere except in court. [More...]

Lawmakers need truthful, complete information to make agency appropriation decisions (Capitol Update)

There's an interesting dynamic emerging between the governor and the legislature regarding next year's budget. Usually state agencies are free to make budget requests based, within realistic limits, on what they feel is needed to accomplish their duties and, if funds are available, to increase services. In preparation for the session, agencies appear before the appropriations committees to explain and justify their budget requests. Depending on available revenue, the legislature will decide which, if any, programs deserve either cuts or additional funding. This is done with input from the governor and his staff because, at the end of the day, the governor has the right to sign or veto the appropriations measures. [More...]

Much work remains for criminal justice reform (Capitol Update)

With the recent widely publicized sentence commutations, one might have the impression that the work of criminal justice reform is done. To the contrary, these commutations only serve to emphasize how much progress can be made with passage of just one reform proposal. But even after the commutations, Oklahoma is still near the top of the world in incarceration. [More...]

A look at redistricting in Oklahoma (Capitol Update)

Recently, an initiative petition to create an independent, bipartisan redistricting commission to redraw legislative and congressional districts in Oklahoma was filed by a group called "People Not Politicians." [More...]

Medicaid block grant proposal would be ill-advised (Capitol Update)

There may indeed be an "Oklahoma plan" for Medicaid worth considering, but hopefully the governor won't propose an ill-advised block grant scheme that will fail legal muster and, without Congressional approval, will almost surely never be implemented. [More...]

Oklahoma taking step towards recovery from ‘war on drugs’ (Capitol Update)

With these recent changes, 462 Oklahomans have a shot at a new life due to the wisdom of their neighbors who voted for SQ 780 and to legislators who voted to make right some wrongheaded war-on-drug policies from the past. [More...]

Senate committee hears proposals to reform fines and fees (Capitol Update)

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the request of Chairperson Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville), held an interim study on an important criminal justice reform issue: Using the criminal justice system, including incarceration, to collect court-imposed fines, costs, fees, and assessments. [More...]

Agency reforms maintain vital role for Board oversight (Capitol Update)

As the meeting of the OJA board demonstrates, it would be a shame to forfeit the contribution of knowledgeable citizens who volunteer their time, energy, and expertise to make our state policies better. [More...]