Editor’s Note: On Nov. 8 Oklahoma voters will be making several decisions from choosing a president to answering seven state questions.
In an effort to help with those decisions, The Mix 105.1 has turned to the 2016 Oklahoma Voter Guide to review the seven state questions that will be put to voters on Nov. 8. The Oklahoma Voter Guide is a nonpartisan effort by a coalition of Oklahoma entities from both the non-profit and for profit sectors. The voter guide does not endorse or oppose any candidates for state or federal office, nor does it take any position on the state questions.
Following is the review of State Question 781 on Criminal Rehabilitation. The Mix 105.1 will post a review of each question daily through the week.
This measure creates the County Community Safety Investment Fund, only if voters approve State Question 780, the Oklahoma Smart Justice Reform Act. This measure would create a fund, consisting of any calculated savings or averted costs that accrued to the State from the implementation of the Oklahoma Smart Justice Reform Act in reclassifying certain property crimes and drug possession as misdemeanors. The measure requires the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to use either actual data or its best estimate to determine how much money was saved on a yearly basis. The amount determined to be saved must be deposited into the Fund and distributed to counties in proportion to their population to provide community rehabilitative programs, such as mental health and substance abuse services. This measure will not become effective if State Question 780, the Oklahoma Smart Justice Reform Act, is not approved by the people. The measure will become effective on July 1 immediately following its passage.
The implementation of State Question 781 is contingent on the passage of State Question 780. If SQ 781 is approved by voters, but SQ 780 is not, none of the changes described in SQ 781 will be enacted.
If both measures are approved, SQ 781 would create the County Community Safety Investment Fund. That fund would hold any cost savings achieved by reducing numbers of people incarcerated—a decrease resulting from reclassifying certain property crimes and drug possession as misdemeanors. The new In-vestment Fund would be a revolving fund not subject to fiscal year limitations. Any savings or averted costs would be calculated by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.
If savings are determined, the legislature would be required to appropriate that amount from the general fund to the County Community Safety Investment Fund.
The money must be used for county rehabilitative programs, including those that address mental health and substance abuse, or provide job training or education. The money would be distributed to Oklahoma counties in proportion to their population.
The Office of Management and Enterprise Services will use actual data or make its best estimate when calculating cost savings per year. Its calculation would be final and would not be adjusted because of subsequent changes in underlying data.
The intent of SQ 781 is to focus on root causes of criminal behavior such as addiction and mental health problems, as opposed to placing more people charged with lower-level offenses behind bars.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
State Question 781
PROPONENTS SAY: YES
The measure could provide a way to finance mental health and drug rehabilitation services at the county level for citizens who might otherwise be imprisoned under current laws.
Data indicate that treatment programs for low-level offenders are more effective than incarceration in preventing recidivism.
OPPONENTS SAY: NO
The revenue stream for the County Community Safety Fund is not guaranteed. The monies are subject to appropriation by the legislature.
Lowering possession to misdemeanors will remove offenders’ fear of going to prison—a fear that is an incentive for them to participate in drug court.
Tomorrow, State Question 790 on Religion and the State will be reviewed. The Mix 105.1 thanks and credits the following for the information – The League of Women Voters of Oklahoma, KOSU, OETA, Tyler Media, KGOU, Oklahoma Watch, The Oklahoman, and Kirkpatrick Foundation.
For more information on the 2016 Oklahoma Voter Guide visit okvoterguide.com.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit www.kxmx.com