Oklahoma criminal justice bill ‘a step in the wrong direction,’ conservative leaders say

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report 
Oklahoma City – Conservative leaders and policy experts from Right on Crime and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs have released a statement on Senate Bill 334, under consideration at the State Legislature. 
Criticism of the measure came from Jonathan Small, President of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and Marilyn Davidson, State Director – Oklahoma, Right on Crime. The proposal has been assigned to the state House Budget and Appropriations Committee:

“We strongly oppose Senate Bill 334 and urge representatives in the House not to hear this bill. S.B. 334 would scale back the part of State Question 780 that reclassified low-level property offenses to misdemeanors. S.Q. 780 received overwhelming support from voters in 2016, and recent polling  from WPA Intelligence shows that 76 percent of respondents continue to support it.

“Oklahoma voters want to see investments in mental health treatment, education and victim services, with a majority of respondents in favor of using funding to support these critical priorities.” 
[link to polling data: http://wpaintel.com/poll-shows-oklahomans-strongly-support-sq-780-criminal-justice-reform-memo/]

In the statement sent to The City Sentinel newspaper, CapitolBeatOK.com and other state news organizations, which was released Friday (March 26), Small and Davidson said:

“S.B. 334 would double the length of time to compile multiple property offenses together to create a felony offense. If signed into law, this bill will lead to more felony charges and excessive sentences, which would increase our prison population and would not make our communities safer.

“S.B. 334 is a step backward. If we want to deter crime and create safer communities, we need solutions that address the root causes of crime. Lawmakers should heed the overwhelming support of S.Q. 780 since its passage, and instead focus their time on evidence-based reforms that will improve public safety and save taxpayer money.”