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What's in inmates' future?

By Josh Rabe Published: August 8, 2007
Representatives from 27 states met in Oklahoma City this week to discuss ways to deal with a rapidly expanding inmate population while keeping the public safe.

More than 150 national experts on criminal sentencing wrapped up the two-day conference Tuesday at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel.

Oklahoma's prisons are at 98 percent capacity, and other states like California are struggling to find places to put thousands of inmates.

Commissions face an ongoing battle with legislators who make more actions illegal and increase sentence lengths, said Jack O'Connell, president of the National Association of Sentencing Commissions.

"Legislators love to make things felonies,” he said.

What they talked about
Dealing with sex offenders

Residency restrictions for sex offenders don't work, a panel of law experts said.

"Residency restrictions are in vogue,” said Daniel Filler, a law professor at Drexel University. "There is no evidence they work at all.”

Twenty-seven states, including Oklahoma, have passed laws designed to keep anyone labeled a sex offender from living near schools, parks, churches and other areas.

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