Wednesday, February 24, 2016
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today commended the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee for approving four bills related to reforms spotlighted in her State of the State address earlier this month.
“Keeping our public safe from dangerous people will always be a priority, however with our state prisons filled to well over capacity, it is vital that we make some changes to our criminal justice system,” said Fallin. “The measures I have proposed will address Oklahoma’s prison population, which is among the highest in the nation, without jeopardizing public safety.
“I applaud the House committee, led by Rep. Pam Peterson, for its willingness to advance these much-needed reforms.”
Two of the bills were passed today, while the committee approved the other two earlier this month. The bills are:
· House Bill 2472 gives prosecutors discretion to file charges as misdemeanor instead of felony.
· House Bill 2479 reduces the mandatory punishment for subsequent drug offenses.
· House Bill 2751 raises the threshold for property crimes to be charged as a felony to $1,000.
· House Bill 2753 establishes means for broader use of drug courts
These bills were proposed by the governor’s Oklahoma Justice Reform Committee. They also have garnered the support of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association.
The bills will be heard by the full House at a later date. If passed, they will go to the Senate for approval.
Fallin said the bills would provide serious sentencing changes that will help control prison costs and reduce prison rates, while preserving public safety.
“Oklahoma has to take steps to reign in its prison population,” she said. “We just can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing. It’s not working.”