Steele’s corrections measure H.B. 2131, heads to the floor

Legislative Staff Release

Published 24-Feb-2011

House Speaker Kris Steele followed through on his vow to focus on corrections reform in this session. House Bill 2131 proposes a number of reforms including changing the default sentencing structure from consecutive to concurrent terms, enhancing eligibility for community sentencing and Global Position System Monitoring, programs, and limiting the Governor’s role in the parole process for non-violent offenders.
“Our prisons are near capacity. Currently, if someone is convicted and considered a danger to society, there is virtually no place to put them,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “These changes would result in the better use of taxpayer dollars, increase in public safety and more appropriate consequences for low-risk offenders.”
Oklahoma is the only state that requires the Governor to approve every parole after the Pardon and Parole Board submits a recommendation. Steele’s bill would limit the Governor’s participation in the parole process for non-violent offenders by allowing the recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board to go into effect if no action is taken within 30 days of receipt by the Governor.
In addition, eligibility would be expanded for community sentencing programs and GPS monitoring for certain low-risk offenders.
“The qualification for community sentencing is a very methodical process,” stated Steele. “This broadens the applicability on the front end. Ultimately, if we increase the use of community based services for non-violent offenders and place more focus on treatment and prevention, my hope is that crime rates will be reduced.”
Steele concluded, “We should consider the state of Texas when it comes to corrections reform. They have implemented significant reforms and are seeing successful results because of what they have put in place.“
House Bill 2131 passed out of the Public Safety Committee and will now advance to the floor of the House.