The state of Oklahoma still has a long way to go when it comes to criminal justice reform.
According to research from the Oklahoma Policy Institute, Oklahoma not only has the highest incarceration rates in the country, but as of 2018, it has the highest incarceration rates in the entire world.
The Oklahoma Policy Institute indicates that approximately 1,079 residents out of every 100,000 in the state are incarcerated. Comparatively, the U.S. rate is 698 individuals out of every 100,000 Americans.
The next highest incarceration rate in the world is the United Kingdom, which incarcerates only 139 out of every 100,000 of its residents.
These numbers are just simply unsustainable.
In Oklahoma, over $500 million is spent in taxpayer money to pay for overcrowded prisons.
Ultimately, incarceration is ineffective when it comes to rehabilitating individuals who commit nonviolent crimes.
The research is very clear that if the goal truly is to combat the drug crisis in Oklahoma, then substance abuse rehabilitation and therapeutic services are the only practical ways to begin alleviating the state's drug problems.
Unfortunately, State Question 805, which sought to decrease prison sentences for nonviolent crimes, did not pass in the last election. However, that does not mean the fight is over.
It is imperative that Oklahomans come together, spread the word and continue to challenge state legislators in reversing the state's criminal policies, which have cost hundreds of millions and devastated communities across the state.
Stephen Nanna, Tulsa
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