Visit our 2020 State Questions and Elections page for more information on Oklahoma ballot measures and elections.
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- More about State Question 805
State Question 805 would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to end the use of sentence enhancements for people convicted of nonviolent crimes.
Right now, people who are sentenced to prison can have their sentences extended if they have prior felony convictions. Under SQ 805, people convicted of nonviolent felonies could still receive the maximum sentence for that crime, but would not receive additional time — called a “sentence enhancement” — due to past convictions. In addition, this measure would allow people to petition a court to have their sentences shortened if they are currently in prison for nonviolent convictions and had received a sentence enhancement.
Background Information on SQ 805
For decades, Oklahoma has maintained the highest incarceration rate for women and one of the highest overall incarceration rates in the United States. Oklahoma courts sentence people to prison more often and for longer periods of time when compared to the rest of the country. Sentence enhancements are a major contributor to those trends. Oklahoma courts levied sentence enhancements against about 80 percent of people eligible for them. Those enhancements caused their sentences to be 36 percent longer — nearly two years — when compared to those who did not receive the enhancements, according to an analysis by the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs.
The state’s prison population has declined in recent years following justice reform efforts, most notably the passage of SQ 780 and SQ 781 and a package of parole and sentencing reforms passed by the Legislature in 2018.
Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, the group that sponsored SQ 780 and 781, leads the campaign for SQ 805. The group collected more than 260,000 signatures from Oklahoma voters for the initiative petition, which exceeded the approximately 178,000 needed to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
Supporters say …
Opponents say …
SQ 805 Ballot Language
“This measure seeks to add a new Article II-A to the Oklahoma Constitution. This new Article A excepts and does not apply to persons who have ever been convicted of a violent felony. It would prohibit the use of a former felony conviction to increase the statutorily allowable base range of punishment for a person subsequently convicted of a felony. Individuals who are currently incarcerated for felony sentences that were enhanced based on one or more former felony convictions, and whose sentences are greater than the maximum sentence that may currently be imposed for such felonies, may seek sentence modification in court. The new Article sets forth a detailed process for such sentence modification, including but not limited to requirements for a hearing, appointment of counsel for indigent petitioners, and notification of victims, and requires that the court impose a modified sentence no greater than the current maximum sentence which may be imposed on a person convicted of the same felony with no former felony convictions, and which results in no greater time served in prison than under the original sentence. It establishes an appeal procedure, provides an effective date, and contains a severability clause.”
More about Oklahoma State Question 805
- Resource: Oklahoma State Question 805, Criminal History in Sentencing and Sentence Modification Initiative (2020) [Ballotpedia]
- Resource: SQ 805 official state documents [Secretary of State]
- Resource: Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform [OK Justice Reform]
- Resource: No 805 [NoOn805]
- Resource: Yes on 805 [YesOn805]
- Analysis: Fiscal Analysis of State Question 805: Oklahoma Taxpayers Could Save Up to $186 Million [Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs]
- Analysis: Addressing misinformation about SQ 805 [OK Policy]
- Media: Group opposes State Question 805, says changes will increase crime [The Oklahoman]
- Media: Tulsa-based nonpartisan group addresses misinformation about SQ805 [NewsOn6]
- Media: Oklahoma’s prison population dips to level not seen since 2009 but remains overflowing [Tulsa World]
- Media: Oklahoma governor opposes criminal justice initiative [KFOR]
- Media: Oklahoma Prosecutors Question Proposal to Free More Inmates [AP News]
- Media: District Attorney concerned about impact of SQ 805 [Woodward News]
- Media: Tulsa Co. DA Steve Kunzweiler Responds To Push For More Prison Release [NewsOn6]
- Media: Domestic-abuse punishments escalate tensions between victim advocates, justice reform supporters [Oklahoma Watch]
- Media: Domestic violence poised to become a ‘violent crime’ [Oklahoma Watch]
- Statement: ODOC’s response to analysis on SQ 805 [Oklahoma Department of Corrections]
- Opinion: SQ 805 recognizes Oklahomans are not that bad [Ryan Haynie Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]
- Opinion: The case for sentencing reform in Oklahoma [Adam Luck Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]
- Opinion: Let’s continue criminal justice reform momentum with sentencing reform [Kelly Doyle Op-Ed / Tulsa World]
- Opinion: Oklahoma needs State Question 805 [Damita Price Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]
- Opinion: SQ 805 a bad idea for Oklahoma [Frank Keating / The Oklahoman]
More Information About Voting in Oklahoma
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