PRISON OVERCROWDING AND PRIVATE PRISONS
WHY KICKING THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD NEVER FIXES ANYTHING
We are always up front with our readers. To be fair, we took a stand against State Questions 780 and 781 simply because they created a mess that made the citizens of the State of Oklahoma more vulnerable to crime. We also took offense to the questions due to there being written by a former Speaker of the House who is a known social justice warrior. As Speaker of the House he managed to get these bills passed only to have them vetoed by the Governor because most of the funds that would be paid to companies monitoring the individuals on ankle bracelets he was a high ranking member of. The largest of the companies also included as a senior partner the Oklahoma County D.A. David Prater. This was nothing more than an unfunded pay for play scheme.
The first article of interest we found was this A Sticking Point in Justice Debate: What Is a Violent Crime? | Oklahoma Watch. This article brings out a problem that the people who wrote State Questions 780 and 781 wrote failed to take into consideration. They either didn't consider it or they just wanted the money. Included in this article were several links that shows you how in depth the problem really is. Listening to the liberal press or the company that will benefit from these laws you would never imagine the depth of the effect of the damage they have done. We have made it easy for you by finding the articles and listing them for you here OCIS Document Index. This list all the various criminal offenses that are covered by those two question.
The next link you need to open is this OSCN Found Document:Required Service of Minimum Percentage of Sentence - Offenses Specified. We urge you to open this link and read the article. It is an actual list of crimes that are mandated by law that required eighty-five percent (85%) of their sentence before they are eligible for parole.
The next link you need to open is this OSCN Found Document:Definitions. This gives you the definitions of certain crimes that are considered violent by nature. We find that this list is hard to get past when you want to consider individual non-violent offenses. What is really missing from all of these definitions and list is how it affects the victims. To an individual or even to a family breaking into their home while they are away from home violates their personal well-being and is every bit as devastating as being assaulted physically.
The next article of interest we found was this Seven things to know about SQ 780, 781 | News OK. This is another article that is a must to open the link and read for yourself. The two State Questions created a program that was to be run from the savings of not sending people to prison. The problem with that is since the mid-90's the state has been contracting with private prisons. These private prisons cost the state just over ninety two million dollars a year. The way the contracts are written, the state must pay for the beds they have contracted for even if those beds are empty. These contracts became necessary simply because the legislature and the governor signed stricter sentencing laws into effect in the 90's. Where they made the fatal error was that they failed to take any action to correct a problem that has existed within Oklahoma State owned prisons since the 1950's. They in fact created the need for the private prisons. So in steps a Social Justice warrior who is actually seeking to make a profit off an error he was unable to fix while he spent twelve (12) years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
The next article of interest we found was this Oklahoma Reclassification of Some Drug and Property Crimes as Misdemeanors, State Question 780 (2016) - Ballotpedia. This article is well worth the time of reading for yourself. It gives a brief description of a few of the changes subject to change by this State Question being passed. It also points out a major flaw in the passing of both questions 780 and 781. The flaw is stated "The prison cost savings brought about by State Question 780 were intended to be allocated according to the companion initiative State Question 781. State Question 781 was designed to allocate funds made available by the prison cost savings to counties in proportion to their population and could be claimed by privately-run rehabilitative organizations that provide drug and mental health treatment, job training and education programs." What these two initiatives have given the citizens of the state of Oklahoma is an unfunded program designed to make retired politicians a way to keep milking the tax payers after they have finished their careers. It is truly unfathomable to think that a third initiative that would have made this program feasible would have been one designed to cancel the contracts with the private prisons in Oklahoma. Like it or not there will be no savings from these changes until such time as the contracts with the private prisons are canceled or they are not renewed. Whether they are empty or full those beds are still going to have to be paid for until then. That currently runs to over $92 million dollars a year.
The real tragedy of this is the list of organizations involved in getting the legislation passed. The Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform website they listed the following endorsements for State Questions 780 and 781.
The chief proponent was former Speaker of the House and Social Justice Warrior Kris Steele. He was a Republican for his entire political career but what we referred to as an undocumented Democrat.
Some of the organizations involved included the ACLU, CEO Works, Family Policy Institute of Oklahoma, George Kaiser Family Foundation and many more. There were also numerous individual endorsements. If only people would learn to research the subject before endorsing something, things would be different. We guess you just can't fix stupid.
The next article of interest we found was this Oklahoma senator files bill to change voters' criminal justice reform decision | KFOR.com. The biggest voice in the crowd was former Speaker Kris Steele. He was at the capital almost daily in an effort to get this bill killed. We'll even provide you a copy of the bill here webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2017-18 AMENDMENTS/Amendment & Engr/SB649 HASB & ENGR.PDF. What has basically happened here is former Speaker Steele and the media whipped up everyone into such frenzy over possibly changing what was passed. What they failed to do was take into consideration the various sentencing guidelines that needed to be changed. The way their Question is written a former violent felon who even so much as forgets to pay for a candy bar is released back into the population with no further jail time involved. That is not prison sentencing reform. That is prison work release that puts the lives and property of everyone in the state in danger.
The next article of interest we found was this Punishment and Profits: A brief history of private prisons in Oklahoma. While private prisons have been around for at least two centuries, the industry didn't make its way into Oklahoma until 1995. Most people will blame the harsher sentences people get on the federal government, but they would only be partially correct. Part of the reason is the war on drugs and the tougher sentencing guidelines. We can't help but wonder if our state legislature has ever heard of the 10th Amendment. There was absolutely no justifiable reason that our own state legislature had to apply those same tougher sentencing guidelines to state cases. The lobbyist for the private prison firms waved a little cash in front of their faces and they got what they wanted. That is no way to lead a cub scout pack much less be a leader of the state.
The next article we found was this Private Prisons in Oklahoma. This is a simple map of the locations of the various private prisons in the state. You might want to open the link and see if you live near one for your own safety.
The next article of interest we found was this U.S. Justice Department plans to end use of private prisons | News OK. We find this article to be significant. We can't help but wonder if this was done on an order from the former President, or if they found something that caused them to rethink the use of private prisons. We believe it was a combination of both.
The next article of interest we found was this Private prisons prove costly in Oklahoma | News OK. This article is dated October 18, 2015. At that time it cost the state of Oklahoma $92.2 million dollars to rent space for private beds. What makes the problem even worse is the fact that in neither state run or privately run prisons do inmates truly get a chance to learn a skill that they can use outside of prison. A good part of our overcrowding problem stems from the repeat offender that knows no other way to make a living.
The next article is this Oklahoma's private prisons operate in secrecy, advocacy group says | Metro & Region | tulsaworld.com. We are fully aware that this article is from a left leaning think tank. That doesn't change the fact that when you are right on a subject you are right. The records of these facilities involving Oklahoma inmates should be open to the public. They signed a contract with the state and should understand that they are subject to the same laws as the Department of Corrections.
There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from all of this. Former Speaker Steele lost this battle while he was still a member of the House and now he thinks he's found a way to win. A social justice warrior his entire life, he was unable to separate his personal feelings from his goal of protecting the citizens of Oklahoma. He chose profit over the protection of the residents. Because of the complex nature currently on the state Statutes involving various crimes, the legislation was justified for the safety of the residents. For a man that served twelve years in the state legislature he should have known better.