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November 5, 2012

Reformations could save tax dollars

NORMAN — Proponents of two state questions claim they will make reforms that could save millions for taxpayers. In addition, another state question proposes to save money through expanding public bonding capacity.

SQ 762: This measure changes current law, decreasing the power and authority of the governor by removing him or her from the parole process for persons convicted of certain offenses defined as nonviolent offenses. It enlarges the power and authority of the Pardon and Parole Board by authorizing that board, in place of the governor, to grant parole to persons convicted of certain offenses defined as nonviolent offenses.

The legislature defines what offenses are nonviolent offenses and can change that definition.

The measure authorizes the Pardon and Parole Board to recommend to the governor, but not to itself grant, parole for persons convicted of certain offenses, specifically those offenses identified by law as crimes for which persons are required to serve not less than 85 percent of their sentence prior to being considered for parole and those designated by the legislature as exceptions to nonviolent offenses.

For those offenses for which persons are required to serve a minimum mandatory period of confinement prior to being eligible to be considered for parole, the Pardon and Parole Board may not recommend parole until that period of confinement has been served.

A “yes” vote will remove the governor from the pardon and parole process in the case of non-violent offenders.

Proponents of SQ 762 say it will save the state millions of dollars. Opponents say it will open the gates for those prisoners who need to serve their time.

“Letting the governor focus on parole recommendations for violent crimes is a critical component of Oklahoma’s recent progress to build a stronger, more effective criminal justice system,” said House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee. “Approving this measure will generate tens of millions of dollars in savings that can be reinvested in initiatives that truly reduce and prevent crime. A vote for SQ 762 is a vote for a safer Oklahoma.”

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