The Norman Transcript


January 5, 2014

Uncertain future for state prisons



In an email shortly before the working group broke up, Mullins recommended that the administration portray a decision to turn down federal funds as a demonstration of fiscal thrift.

“I think this is the time we cut our losses,” Mullins states in the email in February 2013 to Northrup and then-Assistant General Counsel Rebecca Frazier.

Championed by Steele, a Shawnee Republican, the law requires mandatory supervision for felons released from prison who were sentenced after the law took effect in 2012. It also created intermediate facilities for those who violate drug court regulations or conditions of probation and parole. The law also created a program controlled by the attorney general’s office to reduce violent crime through grants to local law enforcement agencies.

Mullins acknowledges that progress is slow but that it is progress nonetheless.

Steele said that, based on his conversations with her, Fallin initially supported the Justice Reinvestment Initiative but that Mullins and Northrup changed its direction as he prepared to leave the Capitol under term-limits legislation.

“(The governor’s) staff was even saying they could sign it and it would go away because there would not be anyone to champion it,” Steele said.

The emails show Fallin’s office wanted to change the role of a panel co-chaired by Steele and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater — making it advisory rather than the one implementing JRI — and create a new panel.

As a result, both men resigned from the working group. Prater declined to be interviewed on the record.

Mullins defended the decision to change Steele and Prater’s roles.

“We believed we needed a new steering committee that was an official committee from Oklahoma with people that would have the power and influence to affect policy,” said Mullins, a former prosecutor who described himself as Fallin’s lead policy advisory on JRI.

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