A measure intended to reduce crime and control prison growth was signed into law Wednesday.
House Bill 3052 creates a grant program for local law enforcement agencies, requires supervision of all felons leaving prison and develops intermediary revocation facilities for nonviolent offenders who violate drug court regulations or conditions of probation and parole.
The measure, which represents three years of work, was authored by House Speaker Kris Steele. It takes effect Nov. 1.
“This is the beginning of a tougher, smarter fight against crime,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “Police will get more resources, offenders will be held more accountable, prisons will have the space to incapacitate dangerous criminals and Oklahoma will be much safer as a result. The tide has truly turned for the better. We're now making decisions based on facts instead of decisions based on emotions and anecdotes that led to some of the problems this bill addresses.”
The state's prison occupancy ranges between 95 and 99 percent, or about 26,000 inmates; more than half are nonviolent offenders. If no changes are made, the state will have to build prisons to provide an additional 3,000 beds in the next 10 years, Steele said.
Gov. Mary Fallin plans to hold a bill-signing ceremony with Steele and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, the Senate author of the bill, at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the governor's large conference room at the state Capitol. She signed the measure Wednesday because it was the deadline for her to approve it; failure to sign it would have resulted in the measure dying.
Scheduling conflicts prevented Fallin from having a bill-signing ceremony before Thursday, a spokesman said.
Steele said about 51 percent of the state's felons released from prison now leave without any supervision.
A majority of felons who offend again do so within their first year of release from prison, he said. Much of the savings generated by passage of HB 3052 would come from working to reduce repeat offenders.
In order to his get his measure passed, Steele had to accept a decision by the Senate to gut part of his bill. The Senate cut a section of his bill that would have allowed inmates who must serve 85 percent of their sentence to start earning good-time credits when they enter prison. Inmates now serving the 85 percent sentences are not eligible to earn good-time credits until 85 percent has been served.