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Oklahoma Department Of Corrections Pushes Back On State Question 805 Analysis

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said in a statement last week there are some flaws in an analysis that claims eliminating sentence enhancements for nonviolent crimes would reduce the prison population and save the state up to $186 million in 10 years.

Sentence enhancements are a tool that allows courts to increase the maximum range of punishment for defendants who have prior convictions.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs argues getting rid of enhancements for defendants convicted of nonviolent crimes will drop the state’s prison population more than eight percent over the next decade.

The Department of Corrections says that’s not guaranteed because if voters approve State Question 805, courts could still sentence defendants to the maximum amount of prison time allowable, or make defendants convicted on multiple charges serve out the sentence for each count separately.

An OCPA spokesperson says it’s a valid point and it’s unclear how courts would react if the question passes.

The prison agency also argues the report doesn’t account for more than $24,000,000 cut from its budget for the next fiscal year. It claims the budget cuts will negate the first four and a half years of savings predicted by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Quinton Chandler worked at StateImpact Oklahoma from January 2018 to August 2021, focusing on criminal justice reporting.
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