Contact: State Rep. Josh West
Office: (405) 557-7415
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Josh West today praised Gov. Mary Fallin for commuting the sentences of 21 individuals who if arrested today, would likely serve lesser sentences or no prison time at all for their crimes. The 21 approved individuals are set to be released from the Department of Corrections later today.
West, who has been a champion for criminal justice reform, has called for changes to Oklahoma’s criminal justice system in order to save taxpayer dollars, reduce the state’s prison population and keep families united.
“Commutation is an appropriate legal remedy for people still in prison for low-level offenses like simple drug possession, which is now a misdemeanor carrying no prison term,” said West, R-Grove. “If Oklahoma truly wants a fiscally conservative state budget, cutting the prison population must be part of the approach. Being No. 1 in incarceration causes too much wasteful spending that doesn't make us safer. It also tears apart families, driving up social service expenses that would be better spent elsewhere.”
West said he looks forward to working next legislative session to make sure all Oklahomans serving excessive and unjust sentences for simple drug possession are re-sentenced under the current law.
“How can we imprison people for a past crime that, if committed today, would no longer require them to be behind bars? It is a conversation we need to have. It's not an easy one, but our incarceration crisis requires it,” West said. “The fact is, these people will be better served if they are back with their families, working, paying taxes and receiving treatment than they are in our prison system. Our budget will be better off, too, and that's good news for all the core services like education that Oklahomans expect their state to properly fund.”