Oklahoma lawmakers are targeting the most significant predictor of domestic violence death with legislation that would reclassify strangulation as a violent crime and raise potential sentences.
The current criminal penalty for domestic violence strangulation is one to three years in prison. Broken Arrow Rep. Ross Ford’s House Bill 3371 — which passed the House Tuesday — would increase the penalty to two to 10 years.
It also would define domestic violence strangulation as a violent crime, meaning those convicted would have to serve 85% of their time prior to consideration for parole.
Similar and even more severe bills are pending in the state Senate.
In general, we oppose adding crimes to the 85% list in the interest of criminal justice reform, but in this case we make an exception.
Stangulation is obviously a violent crime and one of the purposes of criminal justice reform is to make sure there is adequate prison space for those who are true menaces to society.
Women who have suffered a nonfatal strangulation incident with an intimate partner 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.
Domestic strangulation is a serious, violent crime, even if it doesn’t result in death.
Loss of consciousness can occur between 5 seconds and 10 seconds; death and brain damage can occur within minutes. Survivors may suffer from delayed psychological injuries including post- traumatic stress disorder, depression and memory problems.
If the state is going to have an 85% crime list, surely domestic strangulation belongs on it.
The serious consequences of this form of violence necessitates harsher penalties. HB 3371 will save lives, and it deserves the support of lawmakers.