Oklahoma got its lowest scores for personal freedoms, ranking 31st. In sizing those up, the authors cited (among other things) limited gun control, limited smoking bans and the need to reform asset forfeiture rules. They also said arrests for victimless crimes were well above the national average, which hurt Oklahoma's score. “Reforming this rate to the national mean would have raised Oklahoma's personal freedom ranking from 31st to 13th,” they said.
This is an area others have preached about during the past several years, as Oklahoma's prison population has swollen. Nobody wants truly dangerous men and women to bypass prison or serve sentences that aren't in line with their crimes. But the state locks up an inordinate number of nonviolent offenders for long stretches, and many policymakers have been loath to entertain the idea of approaching corrections differently. This helps explain why, as recently as a few weeks ago, a Department of Corrections official said the inmate count is up again this year and the agency is running a $13 million deficit for the first eight months of the fiscal year.
The state is on the right track in many areas. Its No. 5 ranking in this freedom study is something to cheer. But corrections is one place where much work remains.