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Change is coming to Oklahoma’s archaic drug sentencing laws!


Thank God for state questions. Good or bad, they're the only way to get things done in this state.

Yesterday, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform announced they have gathered enough signatures to get state questions on the Oklahoma ballot that will help reform our state's cruel, hardline sentencing requirements for drug possession charges. I'm not making that up. This isn't a satirical joke. has the details:

Backers of an initiative that would downgrade simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor say they have collected more than enough voter signatures to get it on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot.

Members of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform said boxes they dropped off at the Oklahoma secretary of state's office Thursday contained petitions with about 110,000 signatures for the proposal, and a like amount for a companion initiative...

Kris Steele, chairman of the group and former speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, said at a state Capitol news conference that the measures are designed to build "stronger, healthier, safer communities."...

By reducing the number of felony convictions, State Question 780 will save money that otherwise would be spent on incarceration.

Under State Question 781, that money would then be spent on programs to treat drug addiction and mental illness.

Steele said the measures will complement bills passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, which:

•Give prosecutors discretion to file charges for many nonviolent crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies.

•Eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing for first and second felony drug possession, and lower the maximum sentence for all felony drug possession charges.

•Raise the threshold for property crimes to be charged as a felony to $1,000.

•Establish means for broader use of drug courts and community sentencing.

Ryan Kiesel, executive director of ACLU of Oklahoma, said people who serve time for drug possession felonies often find it hard to be successful once they get out of prison.

“A felony conviction today operates in many ways as a modern-day form of societal banishment,” he said.

“These are bold reforms. In Oklahoma, about 17 percent of the people admitted to prisons each year have simple drug possession as their only or as their most serious offense.”

That's awesome! With so much negative news coming from the state capitol, it's refreshing to see something positive for a change. Sending someone to jail for drug possession is cruel and doesn't do anyone any good. Who could possibly be against reforms like this?

Cue Generic Oklahoma Republican Lawmaker:

Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, a former assistant district attorney, is against the initiatives.

“I am adamantly opposed,” he said. “They are reckless and dangerous.

“Drugs like meth, heroin, cocaine and date rape drugs, those are the type of drugs that should remain felonies,” he said. “There are only two reasons to have a date rape drug and that is to sell it or to use it, and that poses a significant risk.”

He also said that changing simple drug possession to a misdemeanor will place an increased financial burden on counties that will be forced to deal with a larger number of people convicted of lesser offenses.

Imagine that. The former DA who made a living sending people to jail is the against law. Shocking.

Seriously, what a moralist nut. First of all, what does the "date rape" drug have to do with any of this? It's like he's trying to use fear to distract people from the real issue or something. What an interesting concept. Second, if someone wants to do meth, heroin, or cocaine, so what? As long as they aren't hurting or bothering anyone else, let them! It's their life and their body. If they ever decide they want to get help or need treatment, we can then use all the money we saved from not incarcerating them to actually help them or the send them to Hamsterdam. What a novel concept.

Of course, sound, logical, compassionate policy doesn't make sense to religious conservative nut jobs who want everyone to abide by their rigid, archaic moral code. Outside of claiming to be pro-life while pushing to end food stamps, increasing access to guns, and making it easier for the state to execute people, drug policy is the most hypocritical issue for the Derplahoman wing of the GOP. In fact, the stance a Republican politician takes on drugs is the easiest way to see if they are a true limited government conservative when it comes to public policy, or just a meandering holy roller moralist who aligns with the party because it will pander to them on archaic social issues. How can you really say you're limited government and pro-freedom, but be in favor of locking people up if they decide to get high and distract themselves from the boredom and bummers of living in this state?

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