The Steep Price of the System

For decades Oklahoma has funded its courts, law enforcement and public services on the backs of criminal defendants. This funding model creates numerous problems including underfunded crime prevention and victim’s services, police forced to waste time serving as debt collectors, and  fines and fees which function as a tax on low income families in Oklahoma. Using criminal court fines and […]

The Truths of SQ820

The history of the criminalization of marijuana is filled with racial biases. It was targeted in the 1930s as an “alien scourge” and criminalized due to its association with Black and Latin American communities. Criminalization was never about public health. Tobacco, which is the leading cause of preventable death in the world, and alcohol, which is the third leading cause […]

Can Police Militarization Be Justified?

Governments across the world are attempting to combat crime. The United States, and in particular, rural Oklahoma law enforcement agencies have increasingly turned towards “tough on crime” tactics including military equipment and long sentences to curb crime in their jurisdictions. Unfortunately, these tactics are extremely flawed and only serve to alleviate  specific symptoms of crime rather than actually cure the […]

A Step in the Right Direction: 2022 in Review

The year 2022 is nearly in the rearview mirror, so now is a good time to take stock of where Oklahoma is as a state and where it is headed. This year offered several historic steps forward for the criminal legal system, while also highlighting opportunities for future reform. Advocates, lawmakers, and voters all worked to change how we treat […]

The Scary and Horrifying Injustices of the Criminal Legal System

Oklahoma’s criminal legal system is defined by many under-discussed and fairly horrifying facts . Like some horror movie character tiptoeing through the darkness we must first confront some terrifying historical truths about our State in order to change Oklahoma for the better. This October, we should be focused on turning these scary truths into reassuring facts that promote public confidence in […]

It’s Time to Hold Legislators Accountable

Seven years ago Oklahoma voters demanded greater public investment in local mental health and addiction treatment instead of incarceration. All these years later – the legislature still has not appropriated the funds as required. Instead, Oklahoma’s 77 counties  are drowning  as they take on the impossible task of confronting the mental health and substance abuse crisis without adequate resources. It’s […]

Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform’s 2023 Policy Agenda Reveal

Oklahoma is an outlier – both nationally and globally – when it comes to mass incarceration . Oklahoma has the third highest incarceration rate in the country while Oklahomans serve nearly double the sentence length of Kansans for common property crimes. Oklahoma has historically embraced the “tough on crime” approach, but this strategy has not made us any safer. The […]

An Effective Criminal Legal System Doesn’t Just Punish Crime, it Prevents It

For more than a decade Oklahoma has maintained one of the highest incarceration rates on Earth, 56% higher than the national average. Oklahoma families have felt the impact of this punitive system. 26,000 Oklahoma children have a parent in a state prison. Those who favor the so-called “tough on crime” approach argue that a higher incarceration rate is necessary to […]