The full Senate has given its approval to a bill expanding community sentencing programs and GPS monitoring for nonviolent offenders. Senate author Patrick Anderson said House Bill 2131, which was approved Wednesday with a bipartisan vote of 44 to 3, would save taxpayer dollars while ensuring the state’s most dangerous criminals are kept behind bars. Anderson said Oklahoma currently spends $500 million on adult corrections.
“The amount of money we spend on incarceration continues to skyrocket,” said Anderson, R-Enid. “Expanding community sentencing and GPS monitoring for nonviolent offenders will save millions of dollars and still ensure the public is protected from the state’s most dangerous offenders. This is just good public policy”
HB 2131 would enact several key reforms, including:
Expanding eligibility for community sentencing programs and mandatory supervision. The cost of community sentencing is approximately $3.50 per day.
Expand eligibility for GPS monitoring. The cost for GPs is about $4.75 per day compared to $38 per day for minimum security imprisonment.
For the first time, would establish qualification requirements for Parole Board members, including a minimum bachelor’s degree in social science or at least 10 years of experience in criminal justice, law or counseling. These qualifications would enable board members to better determine which offenders should remain incarcerated and which are ready for parole.
Limits the Governor’s role in the parole process for nonviolent offenders. The measure would NOT remove the Governor from the parole process. The Governor would still be required to take action on parole recommendations for those convicted of violent crimes as well as crimes involving the exploitation of children and vulnerable adults.
Anderson said the corrections recommendations were the result of a joint effort by representatives of the District Attorneys Council; the Court of Criminal Appeals; District Court Judges; the Department of Corrections; and a bipartisan group of House and Senate members.
HB 2131 now returns to the House for consideration of Senate amendments.