Oklahoma's most violent criminals are far more likely to receive tougher punishment under truth-in-sentencing than they are under the old criminal justice system, according to a new survey conducted by the Department of Corrections.
"This is a perfect illustration of why we can't afford to go back to the old, broken down criminal justice system. When you get past all the scare stories and misleading statistics, the fact is truth-in-sentencing is a lot tougher on violent criminals than the old system was," said Senator Cal Hobson.
In a random survey of 65 violent inmates, DOC found that 62 -some 95 percent- would have served longer prison terms under truth-in-sentencing guidelines. The inmates all fall into the so-called "B" and "C" categories which constitute the most violent crimes other than Murder I convictions. Those crimes include second degree murder, sexual abuse, child abuse, shooting with intent to kill, assault and battery, armed robbery, etc.
"The predators of society were being put back on the street a lot earlier under the old system. Given that reality, I can't understand why the district attorneys have spent so much time defending the status quo and attacking truth-in-sentencing," said Senator Hobson.
Some of the DOC survey cases included:
The survey also showed that in most cases under the old system, violent offenders rarely served one-half or even one-third of their actual sentence. Under TIS, violent criminals must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence.
"That blows a hole in the myth of the 100 and 200-year sentences that prosecutors like to trumpet in their campaign material. The fact is violent offenders are walking back on the street after serving just a fraction of their time. The sentences today don't mean anything. That's an indefensible system that has to change," said Senator Hobson.
Many district attorneys have called for the repeal of truth-in-sentencing, claiming it isn't tough enough on offenders. They have cited lengthy terms handed out under the old system, failing to reveal that those criminals actually served only a small percentage of their time.
"A lot of misleading arguments have been used to defend the status quo. It's hard to imagine why some of the district attorneys would be against violent criminals serving more time, unless you consider the fact that truth-in-sentencing takes some power away from prosecutors. They won't be deciding who goes to prison anymore. No matter who you are, no matter what your connections, if you do the crime, you'll do the time under truth-in-sentencing," noted Senator Hobson.