This is a very exciting time to work in Criminal Justice Reform in Oklahoma. Our citizens are waking up to the unjust outcomes that the criminal justice system can sometimes deliver - and they are excited about the possibilities for change.
We are starting to understand that there are so many sociological underpinnings of our criminal justice system that drive incarceration. Oklahoma has the highest number of Adverse Childhood Experiences and citizens report the highest level of "despair" in the nation. Oklahomans are beginning to understand the interconnectedness of these issues - that intergenerational trauma, underfunded resources, and over-using incarceration have starved our families and communities of vitality and freedom.
Our team hears from people daily who are struggling in the system and who remind us of all the policy realities that continue to keep Oklahoma incarcerated and struggling.
With all this energy and attention on the issue, the question becomes: what's next? 2022 is an election year for both the legislature and district attorneys. Are you getting what you need from the system at the state and county level? Does the system deliver public safety and crime reduction? Do people have the support they need for mental health diagnoses and addiction? There has never been a better time to jump in with both feet and understand the issues facing Oklahoma from the inside out.
This is why we have launched our first-ever Criminal Justice Policy Survey. I know you get asked to fill out spam surveys all day long - I promise this is not like one of those surveys you take after you visit a car dealership. Our analysis team will be taking a deep dive into the narrative responses to truly code and understand your experiences within the criminal justice system. We are looking for themes and root causes within the system that we can address. OCJR has always sought to address the root causes of incarceration and prevent people from going to prison in the first place. Understanding the experiences of people in the criminal justice system in Oklahoma allows us to hear from the people that are closest to the problem, and thus they are closest to the solution.
Here are the policy concepts you will be asked to prioritize in the survey:
- Criminal Sentencing (lengths of sentences, enhancements, and reducing 85% crimes)
- Decriminalizing paraphernalia
- Creating an Innocence Commission to examine old convictions that rest on outdated science
- Ending the death penalty
- Decriminalizing sex work
- Redefining child abuse and neglect in Oklahoma to remove the vagueness and mirror policy in surrounding states
- Addressing racial disparities in Oklahoma's prison population
- Expanding voting rights for those with felony convictions
- Creating "second look" sentencing practices for those who have served a majority of their time to have a sentence modification if they are truly rehabilitated
Each of these concepts is needed in Oklahoma. Your responses will tell us which issues to focus on first - and which of those maybe we need to wait on. Click the button below to take the survey.
We will be unveiling the Policy Agenda that is driven 100% by your responses at an event in Oklahoma City on September 25th. We hope you can make it. Follow our Facebook Page for updates on the event.