A Tulsa-based think tank said some of the information opponents have said about State Question 805 are not true. The nonpartisan group criticized police and prosecutors for what they claimed.
Oklahoma Policy Institute analyst Ryan Gentzler said his article aims to clarify what he calls misleading information being spread by those oppose State Question 805. He said it will change the way the judge hands down a sentence, not negate prior history in sentencing.
Related Story: Local Sheriffs Speak Out Against State Question 805
"We have a lot of people coming out and saying if we were to reduce the prison population, we're going to see crime increase,” Gentzler said. “We just don't see that happening and so we're trying to counter that fear with facts that we see in the data that we collect."
In the article Gentzler said, "Oklahoma has achieved great success in diverting people away from prison, while crime rates remain near all-time lows, contrary to the doomsday predictions by some District Attorneys and law enforcement officials."
"That's plum crazy,” Haskell County Sheriff Tim Turner said. “We're not doomsday predictions, we're telling folks the fact that we see on a daily basis. If we wind up making it where their prior convictions are not able to be used, the Oklahoma criminal justice system is going to be broken."
Gentzler said the most prominent misinformation being shared is the claim courts won't be able to consider people's prior history in sentencing.
He explains the difference is judges would not be able to hand down a sentence longer than the maximum because of a prior nonviolent conviction.
"Don't just give into those messages that are supposed to make you feel whole of progress,” Gentzler said.
You can read the full article on the Oklahoma Policy Institute website.
District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler gave this statement on State Question 805:
“State Question 805 will have a fundamental impact upon victims of crime – especially the victims of violent crimes which the proponents claim are “non-violent”. It will also fundamentally alter law enforcement and the court's ability to remove repeat offenders from the streets and protect our law abiding citizens. The record needs to be set straight for the safety of our community:
The proponents of State Question 805 claim that this measure would only benefit "non-violent" offenders. However, the following is a list of just some of the obviously violent crimes which would now be considered "non-violent":
Domestic Abuse in the Presence of a Child = "non-violent"
Domestic Abuse by Strangulation of a Pregnant Woman = "non-violent"
Elder Abuse Committed Outside of a Nursing Home = "non-violent"
Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult Outside of a Nursing Home = "non-violent"
Animal Cruelty = "non-violent"
Use of a Computer by an Internet Child Predator = "non-violent"
Injury to a Firefighter responding to Arson 2nd, 3rd, 4th Degree = "non-violent"
Home Invasions by a Habitual Criminal = "non-violent"
Assault and Battery Upon Law Enforcement, First Responder, Detention Officer, Teacher, Medical Provider = "non-violent"
DUI Resulting in Bodily Injury = "non-violent"
Leaving the Scene of a Collision Resulting in Injury or Death = "non-violent"
Drug Dealers, Manufacturers, Traffickers = "non-violent"
Child Stealing from a Lawful Custodian = "non-violent"
Do any of these individuals appear "non-violent" to you? They are not. And yet under State Question 805 each one of them will get first offender treatment every time they commit one of these crimes despite the myriad of other "non-violent" crimes they may have committed in their past. Even more troubling is that habitual criminals who have previously been convicted of these and other "non-violent" crimes may have their sentences reduced if they are currently serving time. Does that seem safe to you? It's not. State Question 805 is not safe for Oklahoma.”