Voters To Decide On Criminal Justice Reform On SQ805, Faith Leaders Speak Up

Thursday, October 29th 2020, 5:58 pm
By: Mallory Thomas, News On 6

A group of Tulsa faith leaders came together to support of State Question 805.

The faith leaders met Thursday morning to discuss State Question 805, and how they believe it would help people get a second chance if they are convicted of non-violent crimes.

Oklahomans are voting on 805 right now through next Tuesday.

The measure is a prison sentencing reform for people convicted of non-violent crimes.

Related Story: Oklahoma Voters To Decide On State Question 805

Local faith leaders discussed their own experiences with the criminal justice system and why they hope SQ 805 passes.

Kris Steele, The Director for Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform said "State Question 805 would take a step forward in safely reducing our prison population by creating a standard range of punishment for anyone convicted of a non-violent offense, [or] for anyone that happens to have a prior non-violent conviction in their background."

State Representative Ross Ford, who is a former police officer, worked to get a bipartisan bill passed this year that will make domestic violence by strangulation a violent crime in Oklahoma. It is set to go into effect on November. 1st.

However if SQ 805 passes, it would override that law and keep domestic strangulation a non-violent crime, since the state question is dated back to January 1st.

"We have to protect women from predators that want to hurt them and strangle them, and my problem with 805 is that it limits the ability of the state to regulate that. And it will take away our ability to add any violent crimes to that list," said Representative Ford.

Related Story: Domestic Violence Survivor Worried About Implications Of SQ805

Colleen McCarty, the Policy Counsel for Oklahomans For Criminal Justice Reform and a supporter of SQ 805, said that the current system does not address the root causes of crime.

"My heart and thoughts are with anyone affected by domestic violence. The unfortunate reality is that our current system fails too many survivors of domestic violence and doesn’t address the root causes of crime. The truth is that State Question 805 would not stop us from holding people who commit domestic abuse accountable. The sentence for repeat domestic abuse is 10 years," said McCarty. "There are safeguards so that before anyone convicted of domestic abuse can be released on parole, they must pass two separate reviews by the parole board and the governor must sign off on their release. SQ 805 would reform policies that result in senseless, decades-long sentences for nonviolent crimes in Oklahoma and save money so we can reinvest in services for survivors and treatment programs that work to stop the cycle of abuse. It will free up resources to prevent the acts of abuse that are being committed under our current system."