Reform Effort Targets ‘Sentence Enhancements’

OKLAHOMA CITY – Criminal justice reform advocates took aim Tuesday at “sentence enhancements” that can result in Oklahomans spending more time in prison for crimes than people convicted of the same crimes in other states.

Leaders of Oklahomans for Sentencing Reform filed a petition at the office of Oklahoma Secretary of State Michael Rogers, calling for a statewide vote that could potentially change the way prison sentences are determined for people who have had previous run-ins with the law.

Kris Steele, who represented Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, said Oklahomans spend nearly 70% longer in prison for property crimes and nearly 80% longer for drug crimes than the national average.

That’s because people who face criminal prosecution in Oklahoma can have “years, decades or even life” terms added on to sentences they might receive if they’ve ever been convicted of other crimes. Prosecutors can use sentence enhancements to add years to prison time to be served by people convicted even of low-level offenses like shoplifting, he said.



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