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State Question 780: Reduce costs by reducing sentencing for certain nonviolent crimes

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To view OCPA Impact’s complete guide to all the state questions on the 2016 Oklahoma statewide ballot, please click here.

State Question 780: Reduce taxpayer costs by changing sentencing from felony to misdemeanor for simple drug possession, other nonviolent crimes

If it passes (“YES” vote):

The proposal will likely result in significant cost savings for the taxpayers who fund Oklahoma’s criminal justice system, particularly in the area of incarceration and imprisonment. Similar reforms in other states, most notably in Texas, have resulted in major cost savings. Many proponents of the reform suggest such a move would allow Oklahoma’s criminal justice system to focus more on those individuals “who we are truly afraid of,” rather than those “who we are merely mad at.” By no longer classifying simple drug offenses as felonies, harsh prison sentences for such crimes are expected to be reduced.

If it fails (“NO” vote):

Oklahoma’s judicial and corrections system will continue to treat simple drug offenses in what many believe to be an overly excessive manner. The status quo on simple drug offenses in Oklahoma will hold firm. Many believe this status quo, as opposed to an emphasis on drug courts and rehabilitation, to be too often a determining factor in Oklahoma’s abnormally high rate of female and minority incarcerations. Such negative trends have been credited with the breakup of many families up and down the socioeconomic scale throughout Oklahoma.