The Oklahoma Legislature is on the cusp of taking a reasonable step to enhance criminal penalties for the most dangerous and portentous forms of domestic abuse.
House Bill 3251 has already overwhelmingly passed the state House and is said to have a good chance at consideration by the reconvened state Senate.
The bill would define domestic abuse involving strangulation or a dangerous weapon as a violent crime.
That would effectively mean people convicted of those crimes would not be eligible for certain forms of early release from prison or for electronic monitoring programs.
The bill doesn’t go so far as to define domestic violence by strangulation or with a dangerous weapon as an “85% crime” — as was proposed by a different bill earlier this year. (State law requires inmates serve at least 85% of their sentences for those crimes before they are eligible for any kind of clemency consideration.)
It also doesn’t raise the top potential criminal penalties for those convicted of the crime, an option that also remains open to the Legislature.
Strangulation is obviously a violent crime but when it is found in domestic violence situations, it is also a terrible sign deserving special attention. Women who have survived domestic strangulations are 750% more likely to be killed later by that same person with a gun, according to the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention.
Men implicated in domestic strangulation cases have also been shown to be much more likely to be involved in subsequent crimes that kill bystanders and police officers. They are also more likely to be involved in mass shootings.
By taking a measured step to address domestic violence strangulation, the Legislature would be protecting domestic partners ... and a whole lot of other people.
We support HB 3251, urge the Senate to take it up quickly and send it to Gov. Kevin Stitt for his approval.