Friday, May 18, 2018
WASHINGTON – Governor Mary Fallin today took part in a summit on criminal justice reform at the White House.
Fallin, who has championed criminal justice reform by backing and signing into law more than a dozen criminal justice reform measures in the past three years, was one of two governors and two state attorneys general taking part in the event, which also featured remarks by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Fallin and other state officials were asked to highlight work done in the states and why states want Congress to act on criminal justice reform. Also participating were New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.
“As a state, we need to make sure dangerous criminals are locked up, but we know that there is a better way to address non-violent crimes, especially when they involve substance abuse and mental illness,” said Fallin. “Our state prisons are filled to well over capacity, so it is crucial that we make some changes to our criminal justice system.
“Measures I have signed this year will not jeopardize public safety while addressing Oklahoma’s prison population. Too few Oklahomans are getting the treatment they need for substance abuse and mental health issues, and are instead winding up in our criminal justice system. We need to stop warehousing moms and dads, son and daughters in prison when many just need substance abuse treatment.”
The governor last month signed nine criminal justice reform bills that will reduce the flow of nonviolent offenders into prison; establish a more efficient and streamlined parole process; and facilitate successful reentry that reduces recidivism.
This month she signed a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that provides significant funding to pay for the reforms. The 2019 fiscal year budget includes $11 million for multiple criminal-justice reform measures.
“It is vitally important to keep our communities safe from violent criminals,” Fallin told the approximately 100 attending today’s summit. “But a different approach has to be taken to yield the best results for nonviolent offenders. It is important that we give people second chances to be productive and contributing members of society.
“It is important to provide individual solutions that include treatment for mental health and substance abuse, as well as workforce training to allow offenders to have a positive transition back into society.”
In his closing remarks, the president called on Congress to approve and send to him a criminal justice reform bill for him to sign.
He called for a compromise to "restore the rule of law, keep dangerous criminals off our streets, and help former inmates get a second chance at.”
“Our whole nation benefits if former inmates are able to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens,” Trump said. “Every year, over 620,000 inmates - primarily from state prisons -are released after completing their sentences. For many, really, life outside of the prison is a tremendous struggle - I see it - to find a job, to stay off drugs, to avoid old habits that lead them back to a life of crime, back to prison.
“Unfortunately, more than one-third of former federal prison inmates and more than three-quarters of state prisoners will be rearrested again within five years. Nobody wins when former prisoners fail to adjust to life outside, or worse, end up back behind bars. We want former inmates to find a path to success so they can support their families and support their communities.”