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It turns out criminal justice reform was a good idea after all…

8:43 AM EDT on August 1, 2018

Back in 2016, Oklahomans voted for, and against, several state questions.

According to some lawmakers, one of our biggest mistakes was to pass SQ 780, which was touted as a criminal justice reform bill. It's hard to believe, but we actually thought it would be a good idea to forgo harsh prison sentences for the worst criminals out there, like animals who get busted carrying a dimebag of the devil's weed.

Thankfully, our honorable saviors in the state legislation swooped in like the righteous defenders of justice and tried to save us from our own stupid will. Led by State Senator Ralph Shortey, who we all know as an upstanding arbiter of character, tried to repeal key aspects of the state question.

Despite his effort, the bill became law and went into effect last July. Now that it's a year later, let's check in and see how badly 780 has wrecked our state.

From NewsOK:

With criminal justice reform, fewer prisoners, less spending

Oklahoma saved more than $60 million over the past year from ending prison terms for simple drug possession and other crimes, according to a new report.

Over the next five years, the state will see savings up approximately $137 million according to an analysis from the Office of Management and Enterprise Services released Tuesday.

State Question 780 reclassified some drug and property crime as misdemeanors rather than felonies. That reduced the number of people heading to prison, which then lowered the cost of incarcerating those felons for multi-year sentences.

Its companion on the ballot, State Question 781, included a provision that the state analyze the effects of the new laws and issue a report each year.

The report shows that more than 9,000 people convicted of crimes found in State Question 780 would not end up in custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Rather, they would find their way to county jails.

Oh, hey, it turns out that the voters actually made a smart decision after all! These results seem to have a positive for everybody in the state. Republicans can be happy because the state is saving a shit-ton of money. Your ACLU types are overjoyed that we got some very impactful criminal justice reform. And most ecstatic of all are the THOUSANDS of people who would've had to spend years in one of our crumbling, over-crowded prisons because they got busted on some petty drug charges.

Any sane person could see the outcomes when they voted on this, so it's hilarious that the first report on the effect of the law is overwhelmingly positive. I'm still not entirely sure why the state legislature tried to overturn this, other than to protect Oklahoma's three for-profit prisons.

All this is to say that in the last few elections, Oklahomans have generally made some rock-solid decisions at the state level, and we need to keep it up. From legalizing medical MJ to bouncing out Todd Lamb in the Republican primaries, there have been some very surprising and positive progressions at the ballot box. There's another one on August 28th, so keep hitting those polls, Oklahoma!

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