Saturday, January 11, 2020

RESTORE Task Force issues summary report on criminal justice reform


OKLAHOMA CITY (January 10, 2020)— Governor Kevin Stitt today received the initial summary report from the Reentry, Supervision, Treatment and Opportunity Reform (RESTORE) Task Force chaired by Secretary of Public Safety Chip Keating and Deputy Secretary Tricia Everest. 

The report highlights the proposals formed by the RESTORE Task Force Committee members, who conducted in-depth interviews and meetings with key stakeholders across the state over the course of six months.  A copy of the full report can be found here.

“I commend the governor’s vision and dedication to criminal justice reform in Oklahoma,” said Tricia Everest, ex-officio chair of the RESTORE Task Force. “The criminal justice system effects all aspects of the State and without proper comprehensive changes, Oklahoma will not improve incarceration rates, public safety, health ratings and the workforce. This first phase of effort brought together agencies from all branches of government, victim and survivor representation, and Oklahomans with personal knowledge of the system and diversion options. Criminal justice reform is cultural community reform and we have intertwined  the lifespan of those incarcerated to understand how we can prevent, train, treat and reduce barriers to creating competent citizens.”

“While far more work remains to be completed, we are pleased to submit this initial report of the RESTORE Task Force,” said Secretary of Public Safety Chip Keating. “The cooperation, dedication and hard work of the members of the Task Force and its committees has been inspiring. They are proof that knowledgeable, passionate people from seemingly very different and opposing positions can, when given the opportunity, work together as Oklahomans first to find solutions to complex problems.”

In the report, the RESTORE Task Force made the following recommendations:

  1. Recommended comprehensive reform of Oklahoma’s criminal code, a feat which has not been undertaken since the mid-1990s. The RESTORE Task Force requested a one-year extension to work in partnership with the Criminal Justice Reclassification Coordination Council to finalize the sentencing reform recommendations for the governor and the Legislature.
  2. Recommended the state consider bail reform based on the positive outcomes being realized in the pilot programs in a number of Oklahoma counties, to include public-private partnerships.
  3. Recommended a strategic focus on changing culture inside the prison facilities, requesting the Department of Corrections to create a “Chief Culture Officer” position inside the agency, sustain the recent re-entry fair initiative for inmates preparing their departure from prison, and pursue a partnership with a seminary to expand educational opportunities to inmates.
  4. Recommended the Department of Corrections pursue and invest in pilots using technology to connect individuals with mental health professionals, supervision and probations services.

“I appreciate the RESTORE Task Force for their dogged commitment to dive into these important issues and develop ideas on how our state can continue to make progress on criminal justice reform,” said Gov. Stitt. “From this report, two things are abundantly clear. First, we must continue to focus on cultural change in the prisons, where state government is viewing an inmate as a person, and creating a plan to ensure they return as a productive and contributing member of our society. Second, we must implement bold reforms to our criminal code in order to provide more clarity around sentencing. I am committed to taking the necessary steps to move the needle and implement these reforms during my time in office.”

In May of 2019, Governor Kevin Stitt issued Executive Order 2019-22 to form the Criminal Justice Reentry, Supervision, Treatment and Opportunity Reform (RESTORE) Task Force.

The RESTORE Task Force was instructed to submit, by January 10, 2020, criminal justice reform recommendations for consideration during the 2020 Legislative session. The Executive Order specifically called for the task force to look at how to reduce Oklahoma’s incarceration rate, reduce the recidivism rate, and enhance and establish diversion programs. The Task Force worked in collaboration with the Criminal Justice Reclassification Coordination Council currently preparing a report to modernize and classify the criminal code, which will set the stage for additional sentencing reform and bail bond reform.

EO 2019-22 can be read by clicking here.


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