BY World's Editorials Writers
Monday, July 09, 2012
7/09/12 at 2:45 AM
State Question 762 would bring Oklahoma into the 21st century in how it handles paroles for nonviolent offenses. Our state remains the only one that continues to require its governor to review each and every parole request. Trust us, the governor has better things to do.
Toward that end, an Oklahoma group is planning an educational campaign to help pass SQ 762, which removes the governor from the parole process for nonviolent offenses.
Citizens for Responsible Parole, just recently organized, hopes to broaden its support and find donors to assist it financially with an advertising campaign. It is led by chairman John C. Pearson,
The group's highest hurdle is getting the public interested at all. Most voters will show up at the Nov. 6 general election without a clue as to what this state question would do.
The measure makes infinite sense. It reduces the costs of incarceration and unclogs the parole and prison system. Many offenders, unhappy with how long it takes to get through the parole process, simply opt to finish their sentences and be released without supervision rather than seek parole early and be supervised.
Gov. Mary Fallin has been quicker about processing paroles than her predecessor, Gov. Brad Henry, a lawyer, who was meticulous, to his credit, about considering paroles. Unfortunately, meticulous reviews take time.
Other states allow their pardon and parole boards to sign off on requests for release of nonviolent offenders. In those states the governor makes decisions only in cases in which public safety might be at genuine risk. That's how it should be in Oklahoma.
This is not a difficult issue to understand but Citizens for Responsible Parole has its work cut out. How can it effectively convey the message to voting Oklahomans that we don't hire the governor to micromanage the criminal justice system?