Oklahoma has a new corrections director in Robert Patton, hired recently by the Oklahoma Board of Corrections.
What this means is a new chance to ease up on overly-punitive sentences and perhaps a new day for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative that was passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2012.
The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is a corrections reform bill that includes elements like funding new officers to oversee those released from prisoners and a plan to reduce corrections spending and reinvest a portion of the savings generated in strategies that will increase public safety.
To this end, Oklahoma sought assistance from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Pew Center on the States.
This new initiative is supposed to reduce the staggering growth of Oklahoma’s prison population while increasing public safety. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who doesn’t agree these two issues are badly needed.
In fact, in a 2012 Tulsa World story, a public safety report by the JRI said more supervision for offenders after they are released, more resources for police and more space for those with mental illnesses could go far in reforming our dismal corrections.
The report recommends spending $110 million from fiscal year 2013 through fiscal year 2021, with an expected savings of $249 million that would otherwise be spent on the state’s growing prison population.
In addition the JRI also says the state could save money by providing more funding for overtime costs, crime analysis, technology and community partnerships for law enforcement.
Our new corrections director has a heck of a job in front of him. He comes to a system that’s overcrowded, underfunded, understaffed and aging. We hope this new corrections director does put effort into implementing the strategies suggested by the JRI.
If not, then the problems will just continue.
Do you or someone you love face jail time? Contact Laird Hammons Laird’s criminal defense attorneys to see how we can help you. Call us today at (405) 703-4567.