Oklahoma agencies working to implement new criminal justice law
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Friday, October 12, 2012
10/12/12 at 8:04 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - House Speaker Kris Steele said Thursday that he is confident that state agencies will meet a Nov. 1 deadline for implementing a highly touted criminal justice bill.
Steele, R-Shawnee, is the author of House Bill 3052, a law signed by Gov. Mary Fallin. It is designed to increase public safety and reduce incarceration costs.
Steele is the co-chairman of a group overseeing implementation. The group received an update on the status of creating intermediate revocation facilities for offenders who commit technical violations of probation, such as a missed curfew or failed drug tests.
Those who commit new criminal offenses are not eligible.
The Department of Corrections is creating the sanction beds within existing state prisons and community correctional centers, according to Eric Franklin, deputy director of treatment and rehabilitative services.
Some halfway-house beds may also be used, he said.
Technical violators will serve six months and undergo intensive treatment rather than spending on average an additional 1.9 years behind bars if probation is revoked, Franklin said.
Tulsa County Undersheriff Tim Albin had expressed concern that inmates awaiting transport to the DOC for technical violations would reduce the available bed space at his jail.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, co-chairman of the working group, said the legislation would not have an impact on county jail populations because those offenders would be there regardless.
Albin said he remains concerned that a mental-health evaluation tool to be used before sentencing could result in more backup at county jails for offenders awaiting sentencing.
Albin said he is concerned that the evaluations will not be done quickly enough, causing delays in taking inmates to the Department of Corrections once they are sentenced.
"There still are a lot of questions to be answered," he said.
"I think we can work it out. We are just going to have to see how it plays out."
The Tulsa Jail is holding 1,708 inmates and has a capacity of 1,714, he said.
About 140 inmates are waiting to be taken to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Albin said.
"The legislation doesn't impact the current population in county jails," Steele said.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office is working on the details of a grant program for law enforcement. Some $2 million will be available in fiscal year 2013.
The law also requires felony offenders leaving prison to be supervised for at least nine months.
Original Print Headline: State getting ready for new criminal justice law
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Tulsa County Undersheriff Tim Albin: He fears that mental-health evaluations could delay inmates' processing
Speaker Kris Steele: He says the law won't increase county jail populations