Oklahoma prison reform law takes another hit

The Oklahoman Editorial Modified: March 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm •  Published: March 3, 2013
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More air came out of the tires of the state's Justice Reinvestment Act when the governor's office decided recently to reject federal grant money that would have helped get the prison reform law off the ground.

The legislation, pushed by former House Speaker Kris Steele and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin, was designed to slow the state's prison population growth and reduce recidivism rates. It called for nine months of supervision for all inmates leaving prison, establishment of facilities where inmates who violate probation could get treatment for addictions or mental health issues, and a grant program to help law enforcement agencies.

All of this requires money on the front end, with cost savings projected in the future. But the governor's proposed budget for the Department of Corrections included only a small bump over last year, not nearly enough to cover these new costs DOC will incur. And now her office, after initially saying yes to the money, has decided it wouldn't be accepting a one-time grant of about $400,000 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to help finance training of law enforcement, prosecutors and others involved.

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