Friday, November 08, 2019


The headline, "More than 450 Oklahoma inmates walking out of prison doors," left a lot to the imagination. Does this mean there was lax security on a particular day? Were the doors themselves of poor construction, allowing this mass breach? Maybe four hundred fifty walked out of prison doors, but they were all summarily rounded up and put back where they belong. Whew.
Or maybe this is part of criminal just ice reform. 
Oklahoma has had the highest incarceration rate in the United States for years. To avoid this injustice and embarrassment, lawmakers have sought to commute the sentences for many simple drug possession and low-level property crimes. According to the Oklahoma governor's office, this will save the state nearly twelve million dollars over continuing to keep those folks locked up. To be clear, there were more than eight hundred cases reviewed, and just over half of them were commuted. Like Tess Harjo, a twenty-eight year old who was released Monday from the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, Oklahoma who had been serving a fifteen year sentence for possession of methamphetamines. Ms. Harjo said, "I have met many women in here who came from a medium- or maximum-security prison who have already served eighteen or more years. It's ridiculous."
So maybe this is the hopeful part, in which the real bad people are put behind bars and those who make poor choices are given the chance to put things right. 
This is somewhat confounding, given that a good deal of this criminal justice reform is being led by conservative Republicans, like Kevin Stitt, the Governor of Oklahoma. Which makes me glad, because good thoughts and ideas are not the exclusive purvey of one party or ideology. Back when Barack Obama pardoned three hundred thirty federal prisoners on his last day in office, it may not have been an affront to the incoming administration. It may have simply been the right thing to do. Which is how it should be. 
Keep it up, people. 

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