OKLAHOMA CITY - Months after Oklahoma voters applauded the effort of Governor Stitt and the Oklahoma legislature to take the next step with SQ 780 by allowing hundreds of Oklahomans relief from incarceration through commutation, the Oklahoma Senate pushed forward the largest assault on SQ 780 since failed attempts in the 2017 legislative session. Both SB 1674 and SB 1587 passed off the Senate floor, and continue along in the process with title off. SQ 781 remains unfunded by the legislature. In response, the ACLU of Oklahoma issued the following statement.
The following can be attributed to Nicole McAfee, Director of Policy and Advocacy:
“Oklahoma voters understand we cannot incarcerate ourselves out of substance use disorder or poverty. While the public rhetoric of many legislators acknowledges criminal justice reform is popular with voters, the votes on the Senate floor today show that Senators do not understand the on the ground crises of substance use disorders or poverty facing Oklahomans.
Today Senators voted to put punishment ahead of people and chose prison over public safety with the passage of two bills that attack SQ 780. Instead of using their power to work to fund the treatment the people called for in SQ 781, Oklahoma senators are gutting the will of the people and adding failed tough on crime policies back into statute. If SB 1674 and/or SB 1587 become law, we will surely see an increase in incarceration at the expense of public health. Given Oklahoma only moved out of the role of highest incarcerator in the world because of SQ 780 commutations, gutting that effort will surely shift us back to the worst. We hope leadership in the House will realize the harm posed by this legislation and not entertain these obsolete policies.”