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OCPA and Right On Crime Join Oklahomans For Criminal Justice Reform

Leaders from the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) and Right on Crime announced today they are joining Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR) effort to enact proven criminal justice reforms. OCJR is a coalition of community leaders and experts from across the state, working to pass a ballot initiative to reform Oklahoma’s current criminal justice system.

“Public safety is a core government service and a major expense imposed on taxpayers,” said Jonathan Small, OCPA’s president. “Our state has some of the highest incarceration rates in the nation, if not the world. It makes no sense to take someone who has committed a nonviolent crime, many times an Oklahoman with mental illness or a drug addiction, and throw that person into state prison with little effort to address the underlying addiction or mental illness. The cost to taxpayers and communities is just too high.”

Oklahoma’s correctional budget is quickly approaching half a billion dollars per year. Since 1994, the budget has increased by a staggering 172 percent.

"These reforms are in line with action taken by several other states, including Texas, to ensure our criminal justice system is allocating limited resources in the most effective way possible,” said Adam Luck, State Director with Right on Crime. “Incarcerating low-level, non-violent drug offenders is a costly method that rarely achieves the correctional outcomes we would hope for and carries a significant fiscal and societal impact that is simply unsustainable. We must begin to take steps towards reforming these systems in safe, smart ways and this campaign represents an opportunity to do just that."

Beyond the direct cost of putting so many people in prison for nonviolent crimes, Oklahomans are paying a growing cost in broken families according to Estela Hernandez, OCPA’s vice president of engagement.

“By reclassifying many non-violent crimes as misdemeanors, we make it more likely that people can be redirected to get their lives back on track,” said Hernandez. “We should never lose sight of our hope to restore people, families and communities. That is what Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform is about and we are pleased to be a part of this effort.”

About the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) was founded in 1993 as a public policy research organization focused primarily on state-level issues. OCPA conducts the research and analysis of public issues in Oklahoma from a perspective of limited government, individual liberty and a free-market economy.

About Right on Crime

Right On Crime is the one-stop source for conservative ideas on criminal justice. It is a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation in cooperation with the American Conservative Union Foundation and the Prison Fellowship.

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