OCJR is happy to have partnered with providers of services to domestic violence victims in creating HB2879. In short, HB2879 takes savings from significant sentencing reforms outlined in SB704 and funnels them to providers who can support and innovate ways to reduce interpersonal and gender based violence.
Oklahoma has one of the highest imprisonment rates in the country and for three decades has incarcerated more women per capita than any other state.
Research has shown that a vast majority of people involved in the criminal justice system have experienced trauma and some form of violence. Oklahoma’s costly and ineffective prison system does not keep communities safer and the state has the sixth highest percentage of children with two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which have a profound life-long impact on a person’s development, health, and well-being.
Criminal justice reform advocates and service providers recognize the effect of victimization on individuals caught up in the criminal justice system and the effect of violence on survivors of crime.
Trauma-informed care, holistic services (including legal services, housing, and public transportation), and reentry support are proven to be effective crime prevention tools that address the root causes of violence, recidivism, substance use disorder, and poverty.
HB 2879 establishes a revolving fund to support victim services and innovative pilot programs that will improve public safety, support survivors of violence, and reduce unnecessary incarceration. The Fund will be managed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
Appropriations will be calculated by the Oklahoma Department of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) based on the implementation of sentence enhancement reform and subsequent declines in the state prison population. General appropriations and private donations can also be deposited into the Fund.
The Fund will provide grants to providers serving survivors of violence, existing programs focused on trauma-informed care, restorative practices, and reentry support, and evidence-based pilot programs.
The Granting Committee will review and approve grant proposals and will be composed of trauma-informed health providers, academics, survivors of violence (including those impacted by incarceration), and other advocates with expertise in relevant fields.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Will this reform make Oklahomans safer?
Yes. Providing people with treatment and other services has been shown to reduce recidivism and prevent crime. Investing in community-based, trauma-informed care can help address trauma, poverty, and substance use disorders before someone is repeatedly caught up in the criminal justice system. Many states have passed legislation to reinvest criminal justice savings into treatment and support programs and Oklahoma should do the same.
Why will the Fund receive appropriations based on sentence enhancement reform and reductions in the prison population?
In 2016, Oklahomans voted to reclassify drug possession and many property offenses from felonies to misdemeanors (SQ 780) and to reinvest savings from prison population reductions to rehabilitative programs (SQ 781). HB 2879 will provide a similar opportunity to reinvest savings from sentencing reform into much needed services for crime survivors and to support crime prevention programs.
How will this Fund help women in Oklahoma?
Research has shown that women are particularly vulnerable to physical, sexual, and other forms of violence and abuse, especially women of color, and survivors rarely receive the support they need. These experiences are frequently a driver of women’s incarceration. This Fund will help support crime survivors, prevent violence and trauma, and keep women out of the cycle of incarceration.
Oklahoma has too many revolving funds. Why can’t these services be funded through an existing source?
Existing funding streams are not meeting the needs of service providers to fully operate, expand services, or initiate innovative programs focused on violence prevention and victim support. Federal funding and other financial resources to support survivors of crime are administered in ways that leave out innovative programs and do not wholly support crime victims and their families. A recent analysis found that Black families seeking financial support to bury their loved ones through the Oklahoma Crime Victims Compensation Act were disproportionately denied funds.