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More changes are needed to control prison growth, Oklahoma legislative leader says

Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele led efforts this year to get legislation passed that requires supervision of all felons leaving prison and a grant program for local law enforcement agencies.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 11, 2012
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It's expected the program will save $170 million in the next decade and provide $40 million to law enforcement agencies over a 10-year period to help pay for technology, overtime and targeting strategies such as hot-spot policing that increases police presence in high-crime areas, which can help prevent and reduce crime.

The measure goes into effect Nov. 1.

“The bill achieved what we wanted and needed, and the state now has the opportunity to do even more in the future,” Steele said.

Aim to reverse trends

HB 3052 is intended to address trends in the past decade that saw the state's prison population increase 15 percent while spending on prisons rose 41 percent, Fallin said.

The violent crime rate during that time decreased by 4 percent.

“That is unsustainable and is unworkable,” Fallin said.

The governor said the bill should help carve into the state's high incarceration rates. Oklahoma is first in the nation in the number of female prisoners and third in the number of male inmates.

Steele didn't get everything he wanted in the measure. He had to accept a decision by the Senate to eliminate a part 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.