The Pryor Times

October 25, 2012

Lawmakers support State Question 762


The Times

— OKLAHOMA CITY – Passage of State Question 762 is a major component of Oklahoma’s effort to build a more efficient government with a stronger criminal justice system, the authors of the ballot measure said.

SQ 762 would remove the governor from the parole process for nonviolent offenders so that the governor can focus solely on parole matters for violent crimes. Voter approval of the measure would end Oklahoma’s distinction as the only state requiring gubernatorial review of all nonviolent paroles.

House Bill 2131, signed by Gov. Mary Fallin in May 2011, contained a provision removing the governor from the parole process for nonviolent offenders. A subsequent attorney general’s opinion determined a state question would be necessary in order to make that reform, leading to the placement of State Question 762 on this year’s ballot via Senate Joint Resolution 25.

SJR 25, authored by Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, and House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, won overwhelming bipartisan support during the 2012 legislative session, passing the Senate 39-1 and the House 86-8. It received more yes votes than the other five resolutions the Legislature approved for placement as state questions on this year’s ballot, making it the most heavily-supported ballot measure of the 53rd Legislature.

Via the campaign Citizens for a Safer Oklahoma, Steele and Brecheen today issued the following statements in response to the governor’s recently-announced opposition to SQ 762:

“This was good policy when the governor signed it into law last year, and it remains so today. All the facts show that a vote for SQ 762 creates a stronger, more effective criminal justice system. No other state requires the governor to review every nonviolent parole because no evidence exists that doing so actually increases public safety. Voters can confidently support this state question knowing that it is a nationally-accepted best practice that can serve as a foundation for further improvements to the parole process. I believe the parole board concerns recently raised by District Attorney Prater are being addressed, and that we should not let that situation prevent this good policy from taking effect.” – House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee

“Approving this state question is consistent with our shared desire to improve public safety and create a more effective, efficient government. Focusing the governor’s parole responsibilities solely on violent offenders will save tens of millions of dollars currently lost to nonviolent parole delays that can instead be used for initiatives that truly reduce and prevent crime. Parole board members will still have every offender’s entire criminal history provided to them under this reform, just as they do today. They have ample facts before them to make their decisions, just as voters have ample facts before them showing that this is a proven, smart on crime, fiscally conservative reform that deserves support.” – Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate