Henry said last month that he has â€œreal concerns about the way we enact and carry out our sentencing policies in the state of Oklahoma.â€
The outgoing governor urged lawmakers to think proactively as they try to tackle the state's incarceration problem.
â€œWe talk about being smart on crime, but we just haven't done enough. Drug courts are great, health programs are great, but those are backdoor solutions,â€ Henry said. â€œWe're addressing the problem after the crime is committed, after the damage is done.â€
As governor, Henry has reviewed thousands of parole applications. While crimes are many and varied, Henry said nearly every prisoner asking for parole has at least one thing in common: addiction.
â€œI would estimate as high as 95 percent of them have some drug or alcohol or substance abuse,â€ Henry said. â€œEven though they may have been incarcerated for, say, a burglary or a robbery or something like that, if you delve into it, the underlying cause is they were doing it as a means to support their addiction.â€
That's why Henry thinks substance abuse prevention efforts are crucial to reducing the state's incarceration rate and, in turn, alleviating its prison problems.
â€œThere aren't any easy ways to do this, but I believe it can be done. It's going to take some concentrated effort and some dollars.â€