Authored by Senator Dave Rader, SB704 is OCJR’s most ambitious legislation this session. SB704 has the potential to help Oklahomans serving excessive sentences for truly non-violent crimes while saving the state over $100 Million dollars over the next ten years.
Oklahoma has one of the highest imprisonment rates in the country, driven by long sentences and time spent behind bars, particularly for drug and property offenses.
A review of sentence enhancements across Oklahoma found that they are frequently used and have the highest impact when applied to non-violent drug and property offenses, resulting in 50-60% longer sentences.
Research shows that these long sentences do not protect public safety and simply add extra months and years of incarceration that taxpayers must pay for. By eliminating these enhancements for most non-violent offenses and applying this reform retroactively, Oklahoma can make sentencing fairer, safely reduce its prison population, and save taxpayer dollars.
SB 704 would prohibit prison sentences longer than the statutory maximum set by the legislature for non-violent offenses (with some exceptions) by eliminating sentence enhancements that increase prison terms dramatically, sometimes up to life in prison, if the person has non-violent prior convictions. SB 704 also eliminates many felony pattern enhancements listed in drug statutes. SB 704 provides relief to people who have received an excessive sentence under these provisions in the past. The legislature can amend the statute at any time and any crimes later defined as violent would be subject to sentence enhancements.
Under SB 704, people can continue to be sentenced beyond the statutory maximum if the person has any of the following prior or current felony convictions:
- Offenses defined as violent
- Any domestic abuse felony
- Offenses requiring registration as a sex offender
- Animal cruelty
- DUI that causes great bodily injury
The following felony pattern enhancements will remain in place under SB 704 and people can continue to receive a longer sentence if they were convicted of the same offense previously:
- Drug offenses involving a minor
- Drug offenses that occur within 2,000 feet of a school, park, public housing, or daycare center