Criminal justice reform activists believe a potential ballot question that calls for an end to rules that extend prison sentences for repeat offenders could reduce the state prison population by more than eight percent over time.
New analysis completed by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank, suggests the changes in State Question 805 would save the state up to $186 million over 10 years.
According to the study, the savings would come from a reduced prison population, and having fewer state prisoners housed in county jails and private prisons. They also say the change would eliminate the need to build new prisons in the future.
The Secretary of State’s office is counting initiative petition signatures to determine if State Question 805 will be placed on the ballot.
The state question would ask voters whether they want to change the state constitution so courts couldn’t increase prison sentences beyond the maximum sentencing range just because defendants had been convicted of nonviolent felonies in the past.
It would also allow some Oklahomans to apply for sentence modifications.