A mom was sentenced to 15 years in prison for stealing necessities and toys from a Walmart. A military veteran was sentenced to 17 years for pawning a stolen laptop. A man served 33 years in prison for $400 worth of bad checks.
All of these sentences were handed down because of harsh rules in our State that severely punish anyone who has committed past crimes, no matter the nature of those crimes.
Oklahoma voters in November have a critical opportunity in State Question 805 to eliminate sentence enhancements for nonviolent crime and end injustices like these once and for all.
Oklahoma passed many of its sentence-enhancement rules during an era when elected officials everywhere were under pressure from voters to enact “tough-on-crime” laws. Today, we know much more about human behavior and the psychology of crime. Extensive research has since revealed that tough-on-crime laws like those in Oklahoma and elsewhere didn’t meaningfully deter crime. Oklahoma and other states have found themselves financing long prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders at immense taxpayer expense with too few demonstrable public safety benefits to show for it.
Consider these stories cited by Oklahomans for Sentencing Reform, an advocacy group leading the effort for SQ 805’s passage:
A public appetite in Oklahoma for criminal justice reform has created surprising and inspiring alliances. Backers of SQ 805 include everyone from retired judges, police chiefs, and criminal prosecutors to business leaders, past governors, and civil liberties attorneys. The state’s two most prominent think tanks – the liberal-leaning Oklahoma Policy Institute and the conservative-leaning Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs – both support SQ 805 and share the same arguments:
Fairness and reasonableness are essential elements of justice and, by extension, the beating heart of our justice system. Ask yourself - is it really fair or reasonable for someone to serve a lifetime in prison because they committed minor nonviolent offenses? We say no, and so should you.
Vote yes on SQ805 on November 3nd.
Don't let a past arrest control your life. Tell us a little about yourself so we can see if you qualify for an expungment. Our initial evaluation is always free.