J.C. Watts: Oklahoma must think outside the cell

J.C. Watts, Right on Crime signatory, chairman of the J.C. Watts Companies, and former representative of Oklahoma’s Fourth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, authored an article for Tulsa World on why the Sooner state’s criminal justice system is ripe for reform.

“As Oklahoma considers reopening prisons to accommodate a burgeoning inmate population, the time is ripe for state leaders to apply their principles of limited government and personal responsibility to criminal justice reform.” Click here to read more.

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“Let’s be smart on crime”

“These principles of being smart on crime find roots from the group Right on Crime. Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas have utilized the principles of quality reentry programs to promote public safety, shrink government and effectively utilize our tax dollars.”

Click here to read more from the Visalia Times-Delta.

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Alaska turns to ROC policies as model for prison reform

The state of Alaska knows “It’s time to try something else” in regards to their criminal justice system and looks to ROC’s success in Texas as inspiration for reform.

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Dollars and Sense: OK prison reform by the numbers, and in understanding hearts

“It matters not if true prison reform comes for practical reasons or for more reasons, of some combination of each.

What matters is whether or not change will happen.”

Click here to read the full article.

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Vikrant Reddy on Denial of Cert in ‘Saint Joseph Abbey v. Castille’

In this National Review Online article, ROC policy analyst Vikrant Reddy discusses the ruling of Saint Joseph Abbey v. Castille, a case about the unlicensed sale of a funeral casket in Louisiana, and explains why it is “a significant victory against overcriminalization and unnecessary licensing.”

Click here to read the full article.

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ROC Presents Congressman J.C. Watts

Right on Crime sits down with Congressman J.C. Watts to discuss incarceration costs, mandatory minimums and why he signed onto the ROC statement of principles.

Click here to watch the the full interview.

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Michael Carnuccio on why he is a ROC signatory

Carnuccio, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs writes: “An effective, efficient, transparent and accountable corrections system should pay restitution to victims while focusing on getting those mothers reformed and back at home with their children.

We need to start getting serious about breaking the cycle, not just throwing more money and cell bars at it. That is why I am a proud signatory of the “Right on Crime” statement of principles, along with notable conservative leaders like Edwin Meese, Chuck Colson, Pat Nolan, J.C. Watts and Jeb Bush.”

Read Carnuccio’s full article in The Journal Record.

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Oklahoma Designs Reentry for Mentally Ill Inmates

Mentally ill offenders have a tendency to cycle in and out of the criminal justice system. Some members of law enforcement see the same offenders so often they’ve begun calling them “frequent flyers.”

To reduce the high recidivism in this class of offender, Oklahoma created the Oklahoma Collaborative Mental Health Reentry Program to keep mentally ill inmates from returning to prison. The Program in part ensures that mentally ill offenders continue to take their medication once they’re back on the streets. But beyond medication, it also involves counseling and reintegration classes, as well as assistance in finding housing and food.

Part of the key to accomplishing these goals is a concerted effort by the Department of Corrections and the Department of Mental Health to share information on offenders so that no one—and no issue—slips through the cracks.

Early results are positive: offenders entering the program recidivate at a rate of 25.2 percent, a far cry from the 42.3 percent for a comparable prison population.

Oklahoma officials estimate about half of their prison inmates have some form of a mental illness, and have documented a 300 percent increase in psychotropic drug administration between 1998 and 2006. Thus, reductions in recidivism in mentally ill offenders not only keep the public more safe, but cut down on costs in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system.

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Criminal Justice System Reforms Advance in MO, OK, and WV

Three states considering sentencing and system reform to save their states millions while creating more effective criminal justice policies have advanced legislation to that end, and one group—the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center—is common to each effort.

The Justice Center had previously aided Texas’ criminal justice reform efforts, along with the Center for Effective Justice (which created Right on Crime). The resulting billion-dollar savings, as a result of avoided prison bed construction due to more efficient substance abuse policies, has spurred similar efforts in other states.

In Missouri, legislation is advancing that is the result of the Justice Center’s advice and research. Those bills, which involve swift and sure sanctions as in West Virginia and shock probation, debuted to strong bipartisan support in that state.

In Oklahoma, legislators in the House approved a bill which would provide supervision for ex-inmates, good-time credits for those felons which have served 85 percent of their sentence and who are approved by corrections officials, and emphasizes testing for drug abuse and mental health issues in defendants, legislation introduced after Justice Center research in that state.

In West Virginia, legislators approved increasing drug treatment programming, swift and sure parole and probation sanctions (which have proven to be more effective than standard revocations to incarceration). That bill now moves on for consideration by the full House; as Right on Crime previously noted, this legislation may only be the first step in a series of reform efforts, as the Governor recently invited the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center to advise the state on reform.

Research-based legislative efforts to make criminal justice systems more effective and efficient with taxpayer dollars are quickly becoming the trend across the United States, and West Virginia seeks to benefit from this body of knowledge as well.

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“Counsel from a Texan: conservative Republican encourages Oklahoma’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative”

Right on Crime signatory Jerry Madden is featured in this article by Capitol Beat OK: “We faced a tremendously growing curve [for prison population] if we didn’t do something. Oklahoma has the same thing, the same issue. We looked at the charts, the projections, and knew we had to slow [offenders] down from coming into the system in the first place.”

Click here to read more.

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