Senate panel advances criminal justice-reform measure
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
4/04/12 at 4:07 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - A highly touted criminal justice reform measure is headed to the Senate floor.
House Bill 3052 by House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, secured passage Tuesday out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 7-0 with no debate.
The measure would require felons exiting prison to undergo mandatory supervision.
It would also create a grant program within the Attorney General's Office for local law enforcement agencies.
It also would create intermediary revocation facilities for those who violate drug court regulations and conditions of probation and parole.
However, a section that would have allowed inmates who must serve 85 percent of their sentence to start earning good-time credits when they enter prison was removed.
Inmates now serving the 85 percent sentences are not eligible to earn good-time credits until 85 percent has been served.
The credits are used to decrease incarceration time for offenders and as a behavior management tool.
Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, said he asked that that section be removed. He presented the bill in committee.
"I was concerned that provision of the bill would have resulted in earlier release from prison of the most violent of the violent, including those with predatory behavior," he said.
Removal of the credit policy for those serving 85 percent sentences would have saved an estimated 326 prison beds over the next decade, according to House staff members.
"The bill remains the strongest, most pro-law enforcement public safety plan Oklahoma has seen in recent history," Steele said. "It will chart a new, smarter course for how Oklahoma deals with crime.
"Police will get more resources, prisons will have the space to incapacitate criminals, and offenders will be held more accountable while getting the services necessary to deter future offenses," he said. "We're still on track."
Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, is the Senate author of the measure.
"Oklahoma needs a renewed plan to make our communities safer, one that is tough on crime and fiscally conservative," Bingman said.
"We know our criminal justice system is on an unsustainable path," he said.
"Today, the Senate advanced a common-sense, conservative plan to put more police officers on the streets, stop criminals from reoffending once they have competed prison sentences, and target taxpayer dollars using an effective approach to fighting crime."
Original Print Headline: Senate panel OKs crime-reform bill
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
House Speaker Kris Steele: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved his House Bill 3052, which would require felons exiting prison to undergo mandatory supervision and create intermediary revocation facilities for those who violate drug court regulations and conditions of probation and parole.