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 —

3)      Inmate populations: Oklahoma needs to determine precisely who is being incapacitated through incarceration and the effects of that incarceration inside and outside prison; in addition, the state needs to determine how its current sentencing policies and practices are affecting prison growth.

Steele will serve as co-chair of the Justice Reinvestment Working Group, which will meet periodically over the next several months to review the findings of the data analyses and begin crafting policy proposals based upon those findings.

Don Millican, chairman of the Oklahoma Christian University Board of Trustees, will serve as co-chair of the Justice Reinvestment Working Group.

“With the nation’s highest female and third highest male incarceration rates, it is important for Oklahoma to take a step back and ensure we are utilizing the most cost-effective strategies to hold offenders accountable,” Millican said.

Working group member Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, said there will be great value in the comprehensive scope of the JRI.

"In 2010, 4,350 inmates were released with no supervision whatsoever and without regard to the risk they pose. We need to conduct a review of our criminal justice system, from arrest through reentry, and determine where there are opportunities to improve how we do business,” Rice said.

JRI will also see strong cooperation between local, state and national justice officials.

“BJA is excited to provide intensive technical assistance to state officials in Oklahoma who have demonstrated a bipartisan interest in using a justice reinvestment approach,” said Denise O’Donnell, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice. “Using this data-driven approach, Oklahoma state leaders will be able to identify and address challenges facing their state’s criminal justice system in order to increase public safety and hold offenders accountable.”

Local and national policy and community groups will also assist with the process.

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