The Norman Transcript

Editorials

January 17, 2014

Politics trumped over sense

NORMAN — Politics trumping policy isn’t a crime in Oklahoma. Politicians get away with it all the time, even when their actions shortchange constituents.

In 2012, Oklahoma had a chance to begin reforming its prison system. A new model for corrections has yielded results in more than a dozen states. Oklahoma received the same promising formula, known as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Lawmakers passed JRI reform two years ago. And then the wheels came off the bus.

After only one year of funding, the initiative, which had the potential to save $200 million over the next decade, went from “political darling to albatross,” according to a recent investigation by the three news sources.

Fallin, as well as new legislative leadership, backed off JRI. The private prison industry also might have played a role in the virtual abandonment of JRI.

That abandonment represents a miserable moment for Oklahomans. Prison expenses rank among the state’s largest expenditures.

The JRI reforms sought to encourage rehabilitation of nonviolent offenders, to lessen emphasis on prison time as punishment for certain offenders, to strictly supervise offenders after their release and to put some of the incarceration savings into crime prevention.

Oklahoman remains handcuffed to a runaway train. Corrections officers are underpaid and prisons are understaffed.

The initiative could have put the brakes on growth and given taxpayers more bang for their buck. Lost is the potential of better protecting the public, better handling the type of inmate who enters and leaves prison.

— Tulsa World

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Editorials
  • Dancing forward

    The official motto for Mike Fowler’s chairmanship of the Norman Chamber of Commerce is “Moving Norman Forward.” But after Thursday night’s annual banquet, the sub-theme should be, “Let’s Dance, Norman.” More than 500 chamber members and ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Local control or not?

    Oklahoma lawmakers are a fickle bunch when it comes to issues of local control. Sometimes they want it and other times they do not....

    April 19, 2014

  • There’s no need to fix system that’s working

    Lawmaker attempts to alter the way judges are selected are being challenged by the state’s lawyers. More than 1,800 signatures on a state bar association petition urging a “no” vote on Senate Joint Resolution 21 have been gathered in just ...

    April 18, 2014

  • On the side of openness

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has been criticized for failing to release emails and other information sought by press outlets who believe it was covered under the state’s Open Records Act. Now, Fallin is coming down on the side of keeping the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • A raise for troopers, but what about others?

    Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers could see an increase in their paychecks during the state’s next fiscal year, which begins in July....

    April 17, 2014

  • Top honors for NPS

    Top honors keep rolling in for both of Norman’s high schools. The district learned this past week that Norman High School and Norman North High School have been recognized as two of the most rigorous high schools in the country and in the ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Wind power bursting

    There are a few wind generators dotting the Norman skyline, but western and northwestern Oklahoma makes up for the deficit here. An industry group this week said Oklahoma ranks fourth nationally in the amount of wind-generated ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Protect your home from wildfires

    To most people, fuel is what you put into your gas tank. To firefighters, it means something altogether different. To people who make a living putting out fires, fuel is that material that feeds wildfires — and there is an abundance of it ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Let’s toast: Main Street bridge nearly complete

    It was January 2013 when crews began knocking down the Main Street bridge over Interstate 35. The timeline on completion has always been this May. If everything comes together and the weather holds for the next few days, the overpass and ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Yes to Capitol and museum

    Two major spending bills have emerged from the powerful House Appropriations and Budget Committee headed by Norman Rep. Scott Martin. Both are up for passage in the full House of Representatives. We believe both deserve passage....

    April 11, 2014