Lawmakers were given few choices last spring with how to address overcrowding in the states prison system, leading to the approval by the State Finance Council for funding to send inmates to the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz. But other choices are available and our neighbors in Oklahoma have charted a path the state should consider as one step in much-needed criminal justice reform measures.
Spurred by a vote of Oklahomans three years ago to reclassify certain drug and property crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies, lawmakers passed a bill making the changes apply to people who were already serving felony sentences for those crimes.
More than 900 men and women were eligible and early this month, the state approved the commutation of sentences for at least half of those inmates. Their projections include savings of $11.9 million dollars and 2,000 empty prison beds by the end of the year.
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