HB 1269 makes 780 retroactive but leaves issues unresolved

HB 1269 is a positive step for justice reform in Oklahoma, but a recent amendment will complicate the bill’s resentencing process and create financial hurdles that will lessen the positive impact of retroactivity. [More...]

Bill Watch: A strong bipartisan coalition could make huge advances on criminal justice reform

This legislative session, leaders of both parties, the governor, the Oklahoma business community and the public at large have expressed a clear desire to work towards ending Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis. Some of these legislative initiatives build on the progress of Gov. Fallin’s Criminal Justice Task Force, but many proposals represent new attempts to lower Oklahoma’s highest-in-the-world incarceration rate. [More...]

2019 Priority: Reform cash bail and court fines and fees

Download this fact sheet as a printable pdf here. Read about the rest of OK Policy’s 2019 Legislative Policy Priorities here. Since 2000, the Legislature has added dozens of new fines and fees for criminal defendants to finance our underfunded… Read more [More...]

2019 Priority: Fund public defenders and courts to reduce caseloads and reduce reliance on fines and fees

Download this fact sheet as a printable pdf here. Read about the rest of OK Policy’s 2019 Legislative Policy Priorities here. Public defenders play a critical role in our justice system, serving as legal representation to the vast majority of… Read more [More...]

Oklahoma’s debtors’ prisons aren’t just a nuisance – they’re an epidemic

The problem of debtors’ prisons in Oklahoma has slowly come out into the open in recent years. More and more criminal defendants have been unable to pay off the thousands of dollars in fines and fees piled on them by… Read more [More...]

Millions of dollars in court debt hang over residents of Oklahoma’s poorest neighborhoods

Earlier this year, we released a report detailing the growth of fees attached to criminal court cases in Oklahoma. We found that as legislators attempt to prop up falling state revenues, fees have risen for every type of crime. When… Read more [More...]

Misguided budget concerns are endangering criminal justice reform

This year’s legislative session started with high hopes for the strong reform proposals that came out of the Governor’s Justice Reform Task Force (JRTF). While most of the bills sailed through their first tests of support, many have been severely… Read more [More...]

New OK Policy report shows how criminal fines and fees trap Oklahomans in justice system without increasing state revenues

Tens of thousands of Oklahomans enter the justice system each year, and many come out owing thousands of dollars in fines and fees. For poor Oklahomans, this debt can swallow up most of their family’s income and trap them in a… Read more [More...]

The Cost Trap: How Excessive Fees Lock Oklahomans Into the Criminal Justice System without Boosting State Revenue: Conclusion & Acknowledgements

Oklahoma’s criminal justice system, like many others across the country, places enormous financial burdens on the people it serves, forcing them to pay for many functions of government that may or may not bear any relation to their case. The thousands of dollars charged to mostly poor defendants can turn into a permanent punishment that creates high barriers to rebuilding a life after involvement in the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, state agencies increasingly depend on the revenue generated by this arrangement as their appropriations from the Legislature have fallen. Legislators unwilling to raise taxes or to reverse tax cuts already enacted have instead created or increased court fees in order to generate new revenue. [More...]

The Cost Trap: How Excessive Fees Lock Oklahomans Into the Criminal Justice System without Boosting State Revenue: Part IV

[Download the full report as a pdf.] Part IV. Recommendations Oklahoma legislators should take steps to reduce the damage of excessive and unaffordable legal financial obligations, and strong reform ideas have aleady emerged in the Legislature. In 2016, the Justice… Read more [More...]