Oklahoma has not implemented real criminal justice reform

prisonerYesterday, the Tulsa World reported that Oklahoma judges are not implementing a key provision of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative that sought to reform Oklahoma’s criminal justice system. The JRI law approved by lawmakers in 2012 mandates post-release supervision for felony offenders after incarceration, but since it went into effect, that requirement has been placed on only 9 out of 1,621 eligible offenders.

Unfortunately, the news is just the latest of many examples where Oklahoma is not implementing the new law. A new fact sheet from Oklahoma Policy Institute makes clear that the law continues to face numerous roadblocks that prevent it from having any impact of the state’s high levels of costly incarceration.

The fact sheet shows that implementation of several provisions of the law have been weak to nonexistent. It also explains how the Justice Reinvestment Initiative did nothing to address the central drivers of Oklahoma’s high incarceration rates: unusually long sentences and a lack of alternatives to incarceration for low-risk offenders.

You can see the fact sheet on our website or download it as a pdf.

For recommendations on what Oklahoma can do to achieve real criminal justice reform, see OK Policy’s “Action Items for Criminal Justice” report.


Gene Perry joined OK Policy in January 2011. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism. Gene also serves on the board of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, is a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and has chaired the communications advisory committee for the State Priorities Partnership, a nationwide network of state fiscal policy think tanks. He lives in Tulsa with his wife Kara Joy McKee, who is a Tulsa City Councilor.

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