The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

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December 30, 2013

Special Report: Actions by Fallin’s staff led to weakened state justice reforms



Despite the conflicts, Mullins said many of the JRI’s reforms have been implemented and Fallin’s commitment to JRI remains strong.

The state mental health department has developed an evaluation tool for judges for alternative sentencing, law enforcement grants are being provided, and the corrections department has set up intermediate beds for probation or parole offenders.

Weintz, Fallin’s spokesman, also said the governor is still strongly committed to the initiative.

“Our goal and the goal of JRI is to reduce the prison population,” Weintz said. “No one in this office wants to see the needle move in the other direction.”

But Steele said many of the reforms have not been implemented because they were not adequately funded. Legislative leaders initially agreed in May to spend $3.5 million, but that amount was reduced. The Council of State Governments had recommended spending $6 million in fiscal 2013 and $13 million annually beginning in 2014, for a total of $110 million by 2021.

“I do not think the state of Oklahoma can sustain the current trend,” Steele said, “either financially or from a human resource standpoint in relation to the way we deal with corrections and nonviolent offenders within our state.”

Oklahoma Watch's Lindsay Whelchel contributed to this story.

Reach reporter Clifton Adcock at or (405) 325-2783.

Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state.


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