Oklahoma Media Coverage

In the Media

Andrew Speno: State Has Two Choices on Crime — Change or Bankruptcy

Oklahoma stands on the brink of a monumental success with the potential to define our state for decades to come. A task force of lawmakers and stakeholders put out recommendations to decrease our bloated prison population, save billions in taxes, and increase public safety. But one step in the wrong direction will crush that success into a dismal failure that will leave our children holding the bag.

The Surprisingly Weak Link between Incarceration and Crime

The logic of the “tough on crime” movement holds that punishing people harshly for their offenses—whether violent or nonviolent—is a critical tool to prevent crime. That attitude was the driving force behind criminal justice policy in Oklahoma and across the country for years, and states sent more and more people to prison each year as a result. Although crime has been decreasing steadily since its peak in the early 1990s, the incarceration rate only began dropping slowly in the last 8 years or so.

When a Policy Alone Is Not Enough

In his first eight sessions as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Kris Steele paid scant attention to crime and punishment. But, in 2008, Steele’s work on the state budget put Oklahoma’s prison system in his sights for the first time. What he saw, he says, “puzzled and dismayed” him.

Justice Reform Again on State Officials Radar

With a pending prison population report that is expected to show the state system is well over capacity, recent talks between the Governor’s Office and a national nonprofit have some advocates wondering: Is 2015 the year for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma?

Support, Fund Justice Reinvestment Initiative

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative was signed into Oklahoma law in May 2012, and promised as a plan that would increase the use of sentencing alternatives and other measures to steer nonviolent offenders away from prison, lower incarceration rates, save on prison costs, and allow savings to be reinvested in public-safety efforts.