OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — There may be yet another issue for you to vote on in November.
State Question 805 has qualified for placement on a 2020 ballot, after petitioners got around 250,000 signatures.
State Question 805 is a criminal justice reform measure that would end the use of sentence enhancements for repeat nonviolent offenders. In other words, the measure would prevent a convicted person’s sentence to be made longer or harsher due to past felony convictions.
Leaders behind State Question 805 say compared to the national average, the sentences for people in Oklahoma are 79% longer for drug crimes and 70% longer for property crimes and sentence enhancements often add additional prison time for repeat offenders.
Supporters of criminal justice reform say tougher sentences for repeat offenders are too extreme for nonviolent crimes, including domestic violence. They say extended prison stays should be replaced with rehabilitation programs and increased support for victims.
The worry from some lawmakers is, the measure would remove a tool that prosecutors say is necessary to hold domestic abusers accountable, as many judges use the sentence enhancements to put away domestic abusers who have acted in the past.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has repeatedly opposed the measure, saying it “peels back enhancements for DUIs, human trafficking, domestic violence, some of the things I don’t think we need to put into our constitution.”
Governor Stitt has until Aug. 24 to announce that the question has been placed on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The last scheduled statewide election this year is the Nov. 3 general election.