In coalition with ideologically diverse ally organizations, the ACLU of Oklahoma advocated for major drug sentencing reforms through ballot initiatives 780 and 781. In November 2016, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly voted to pass both initiatives and the following summer the new policies went into effect.

780 reclassified simple drug possession as a misdemeanor rather than a felony. It also changed the felony threshold for property crimes from $500 to $1000. 781 distributes the cost savings from 780 to the counties to invest in a wide range of alternatives to incarceration like mental health services and drug treatment programs. Given the current economic climate and the human rights crisis caused by mass incarceration, SQ 781 is a step in the right direction toward ensuring those who need services can have ready access to them in their communities.

With our prisons at well over 100% capacity, the second highest incarceration rate in the country, and the highest incarceration of women, it’s clear that our current system is broken, unsustainable, and does nothing to keep our communities together and safe. These much needed reforms are an important first step toward reforming a justice system that in its current form is dangerous and unsustainable.