Oklahoma's Candidates For Governor Face Tough Questions About Crime

Wednesday, November 1st 2006, 12:54 pm
By: News On 6

Governor Brad Henry and Congressman Ernest Istook have very different ideas on the direction the state is heading concerning crime. In this final week of Campaign 2006, News on 6 anchor Terry Hood asks, 'how safe is our state?'

Governor Brad Henry is proud of his record on crime. He says in the past four years, the state has cracked down on violent offenders, sexual predators, and pedophiles. "For the first time in our state's history, because of a program I pushed, we now have an Internet crimes against children unit within the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation."

Henry says the biggest impact can be seen on the frontlines of the war on drugs. He says his plan to put the ingredients for making methamphetamine behind the counter has been praised by President Bush and serves as a model for the country. "And we've virtually wiped out meth labs in Oklahoma."

Congressman Ernest Istook: "You may have fewer meth labs, but you still have plenty of people who are using meth, and crime in Oklahoma has gone up about 18% in the past four years. The soft approach Brad Henry has taken is the reason why." Istook says not only has crime gone up, but Governor Henry has put some of the state's most dangerous criminals back on Oklahoma's streets. "1,500 drug dealers were paroled by him after serving less than a third of their sentence! These are people who still had two-thirds of their sentence to go, and he turned them loose! That does not keep our kids safe, our streets safe, or our communities safe."

Governor Brad Henry: "I handle paroles just like governors in the past have. That, that, I, I deny a whole lot of paroles." Henry says his total is below the national average.

Istook is also critical of the governor on one case in particular. He commuting the sentence of a man from Mexico who was involved in an Oklahoma City couple's murder from death to life in prison. Henry believes the man's international rights may have been violated.