OKC VeloCity | Chamber helps protect SQ 780 and 781, moves statewide criminal justice reform efforts forward

Chamber helps protect SQ 780 and 781, moves statewide criminal justice reform efforts forward

By Kaylee Terracina / Policy / May 29, 2017

When the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber created a task force to examine the overcrowding of the Oklahoma County Jail, it became quickly apparent that local-level reforms would only address part of the issue. In order to see true success in criminal justice reform, the Chamber’s task force also engaged on the state level to advocate for fundamental changes to how Oklahoma approaches incarceration of non-violent criminals.

Oklahoma is No. 2 in the nation in overall incarceration and No. 1 in female incarceration – a ranking Oklahoma has held for more than 25 years. The Crime and Justice Institute also estimates that the Oklahoma Department of Correction’s inmate population will grow 25 percent by 2026. If left unaddressed, prison population growth projections will require the state to build three new prisons – at an estimated cost of more than $1 billion – which state taxpayers cannot afford.  

As part of Vera’s report on the factors driving conditions at the Oklahoma County Jail, the task force identified two bills being considered during the 2017 legislative session that would craft reasonable solutions to a statewide overcrowding problem.

One of the measures, SB 342 by Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City), was signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin on May 25, 2017. SB 342 will create a task force to assess existing laws, policies and practices related to fines, fees and costs assessed on those interacting with the criminal justice system to determine the impact on jail and prison populations. Chamber President and CEO Roy H. Williams has been appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin to chair the state task force.

The Chamber was also instrumental in protecting the laws enacted by State Questions 780 and 781, which were overwhelmingly approved by Oklahoma voters in November 2016. In 2017, legislation was proposed that would have repealed many of these key reforms, but none were heard by committees and the damaging legislation failed to advance.

To stay informed about progress on criminal justice reforms in Oklahoma County, visit

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