The Norman Transcript

Opinion

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
Opinion
  • Tax free starts today

    A few years ago, Oklahoma shoppers were getting used to driving south to take advantage of Texas’ tax-free weekend. The outlet mall on Interstate 35 near Gainesville was packed with as many Oklahoma tagged cars as those from Texas....

    August 1, 2014

  • Just wondering about things

    Editor, The Transcript: Why are our companies still investing so much in China, now that they own over a trillion dollars of our debt? Why is China pouring billions into their military and threatening many of their neighbors? Why don’t we ...

    August 1, 2014

  • Top conservatives, liberals

    Three local lawmakers made the lists of top 10 conservatives and top 10 liberals in the Oklahoma Constitution’s 2014 Conservative Index. Editor Steve Byas reported that it’s the 36th year for the publication’s index....

    August 1, 2014

  • Marijuana a gateway for new OK voters

    A poll this past year showed significant Oklahoma support for legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The poll showed that more than 71 percent of those surveyed thought medical marijuana was appropriate for patients who ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Expansion effect evaluated

    Editor, The Transcript: The effect of the Medicaid expansion rejection and acceptance on hospitals’ uncompensated costs are now being evaluated....

    July 31, 2014

  • America paying the piper

    Every third American you pass on the street has debts that have been turned over to a collection agency whose 140,000 workers are keeping the phones ringing....

    July 31, 2014

  • State is No. 2 in barbecue

    Americans love the marriage of smoke, fire and meat, but geography plays a part in how strong the passion is. Estately Blog has created a map charting which states are home to the most barbecue enthusiasts. Oklahoma comes in at No. 2 in ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Community Action mostly closed due to cutbacks

    Editor, The Transcript: The Community Action, at 1155 E Main St. in Norman, for decades has served Cleveland County with the following everyday services: a food pantry, short-term housing for the homeless, providing rides for those without ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Keep guns off campus

    Some Oklahoma lawmakers just won’t let the issue of allowing handguns on campus to go away. A joint legislative study will take a look at campuses around the nation to see if there is a way to accommodate faculty, staff and students who ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Improving children’s lives

    Social service organizations that have long-term debt for their headquarters and operating needs often spend much of their fundraising efforts meeting those obligations....

    July 29, 2014