Criminal justice reform ‘a very bipartisan issue’

Both Republicans and Democrats have identified criminal justice reform as an area for bipartisan cooperation next legislative session, an indication that momentum from voter-approved reforms continues as Oklahoma deals with a nation-leading incarceration rate.

A bipartisan bill to make sentencing reform measures approved by voters in 2016 retroactive is expected to get a lot of attention during the 2019 session.

Gov. Mary Fallin received high praise earlier this month after signing commutation requests for 21 inmates, which reform advocates believe shows a growing interest among the public to see nonviolent offenders released.

“I think voters are much more engaged on this issue than perhaps they have been in years past, and I think that will have a direct impact on the results we see in the next legislative session,” Kris Steele, executive director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, a bipartisan coalition of community leaders, said.

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