For Immediate Release
March 9, 2017
Media Contact: Joe Dorman; firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-892-9205
Child Advocates Criticize Proposed Rollback of Criminal Justice Reforms
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) CEO Joe Dorman today expressed disappointment with House members who voted to advance HB 1482, a bill to roll back criminal justice reforms approved by voters on the 2016 ballot. State Questions 780 and 781 – both of which passed by wide margins – reduced felony convictions for personal drug use to misdemeanors and set aside additional resources for drug treatment, mental health and rehabilitation programs. HB 1482, which passed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives with the minimum number of votes needed, reinstates many felony drug charges and directly counteracts the recently approved ballot measures. HB 1482 now goes to the Senate, where Dorman said he and other child advocates would fight it.
“For years, Oklahoma has employed a ‘lock them up’ mentality when it comes to catching people with small amounts of drugs,” said Dorman. “The result is that Oklahoma has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. One in ten Oklahoma children will now have a parent go through the criminal justice system, mostly for non-violent crimes like drug possession. We have to break the cycle of drug use, incarceration, and poverty with smart reforms that emphasize treatment and rehabilitation over punishment and long prison terms. Voters recognized that when they passed State Questions 780 and 781. It’s time for our lawmakers to recognize the wisdom of Oklahoma voters and respect their decision rather than trying to reinstate policies that contribute to breaking up families and perpetuating the state’s incarceration crisis.”