RELEASE: House Passes Additional Criminal Justice Reform Measures

by Rep. Jason Sutton

OKLAHOMA CITY – Two additional criminal justice reform measures passed out of the House of Representatives today and are now heading to the governor’s desk for her consideration.

Senate Bill 649, by state Rep. Terry O’Donnell, would reduce enhanced sentences for certain repeat non-violent offenders. The bill would prohibit the use of previous convictions for possession of controlled to enhance sentences for subsequent convictions.

Senate Bill 689, also by Rep. O’Donnell, would allow offenders who have been sentenced to a life without parole for a non-violent crime to seek a sentence modification after serving 10 years of their sentence. The bill also allows courts to depart from sentencing some non-violent offenders to the mandatory minimum if the court determines the mandatory minimum is not necessary for the protection of the public. In addition, the bill creates risk and assessment tools to be used for sentencing and allows the court to use various intervention programs for domestic violence offenders.

“House Republicans are taking a new approach to criminal justice, one that is more efficient and more compassionate,” said O’Donnell, R-Catoosa. “We have to reduce costs to taxpayers and help non-violent offenders get the help they need so they can be productive citizens. These bills are part of an overall, long-term approach to slow the population growth in our prisons, which are already over capacity. If we can save money, we can direct more resources toward other priorities, such as education and healthcare.”

Senate Bill 649 passed by a vote of 84-9. Senate Bill 689 passed by a vote of 76-13. Both measures now move to the governor’s desk.

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