The Community Service Council and the Tulsa Regional Chamber hosted a policy forum on criminal justice reform on Monday, Dec. 11. Attendees heard directly from judges, instructors, business leaders and participants in Tulsa County’s alternative courts and re-entry programs on how reforms would safely reduce the prison population and enable nonviolent offenders to re-join the workforce.
“Oklahoma voters sent a clear message one year ago when they overwhelmingly passed two state questions intended to lay the groundwork for meaningful criminal justice reform,” said Kevin Burr, CEO of the Community Service Council. “Our legislature missed the opportunity during the 2017 legislative session, and now we’re asking that they uphold the wishes of the voters by passing the pending reform bills in 2018.”
- Mike Neal, CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber
- Kevin Burr, CEO of the Community Service Council
- Adam King, drug court graduate
- Dawn Moody, Tulsa County District Judge
- Jeffrey Poston, Tulsa Reentry One-Stop alumnus
- Jimmy Welch, Tulsa Tech Instructor who works with Tulsa Reentry One-Stop
- Pam Peterson, former state representative and criminal justice advocate
- Dana Weber, CEO of Webco Industries
At the forum, Burr explained how only 23% of CSC’s Tulsa County Drug Court graduates are re-arrested while released inmates, who do not have the benefit of a proven treatment program, are re-arrested at the rate of 54%. It costs Oklahoma taxpayers about $19,000 a year to put one person in prison while it’s only $5,000 a year to get that same person the help they need to return to fully-functioning citizenship.
Furthermore, data shows the same successes for people leaving incarceration who enter CSC’s Tulsa Reentry One-Stop program, which provides employment and training for men and women returning to Tulsa from prison. Of the participants in this program, 95% do not go back to prison.
Statistics show that 95% of people in prison will be released, but only 1 in 3 will be arrest-free three years later, creating a cycle of incarceration that costs the state in both dollars and community safety.
Yet programs that provide an effective alternative to incarceration, such as CSC’s Tulsa County COURTS Program and Tulsa Reentry One-Stop, are reducing the cost of incarceration and producing tax payers that contribute to the economy and the community.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections is currently at 107% capacity. Oklahoma is number two in the nation overall, and per capita is the number one incarcerator of women in the world.