Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Government News

June 23, 2011

State leaders announce Justice Reinvestment Initiative

Effort seeks to reduce corrections costs while holding offenders accountable

(Continued)

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma —

DOC Director Justin Jones said the JRI process is a key part of ongoing efforts to reduce the strains overcrowded prisons have placed on the state’s budget and communities.

“The first step is for us to collect and analyze the data and fully understand our situation. Once this is done we will be able to craft policy options that apply research and best practices to make the Oklahoma public safer and the criminal justice system more effective,” Jones said.

This year, the governor signed into law House Bill 2131, a major corrections policy reform measure authored by Steele that will divert more low-risk, nonviolent offenders from prison to community sentencing and lessen the governor’s role in the parole process.

“HB 2131 laid the groundwork for the future reforms we will make through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative,” Steele said. “There has been bipartisan, statewide agreement that the course we are on is unsustainable, and the JRI effort is the next step in changing that course.”

To guide the JRI process, the state has established a Justice Reinvestment Working Group composed of state agency directors, legislative leaders and top court officials. Suggestions will also be solicited from stakeholders directly and indirectly involved in the criminal justice system, including judges, district attorneys, public defenders, law enforcement officials, advocates for crime victims and community treatment providers.

“This bipartisan initiative will bring together various agencies and stakeholders who are committed to developing stronger corrections policies that will better protect the public while reducing costs to taxpayers,” Bingman said.

The JRI process will focus on three key areas.

1)      Violent crime: Oklahoma needs to determine why its violent crime rate continues to remain high while other states are seeing declines and how to reverse this trend.

2)      Supervision: Oklahoma needs to identify the type of offenders under supervision and how they are progressing to determine the effectiveness of all supervision programs.

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