Monday, October 10, 2011

HB 2131 Early Release of Non-Violent Offenders in Oklahoma

HB 2131 will take effect on November 1 as signed by the governor on May 11, 2011. The measure changes the “default” sentence consideration by the Department of Corrections from “consecutively” to “concurrently” when the Department receives multiple judgment and sentences on an offender and the sentencing court has not specified that the sentences run consecutively.  Measure clarifies that court may order a judgment and sentence to run consecutively with other jurisdictions.  It also allows the Governor to order parole revocations to be served consecutively with other jurisdictions and the court to order suspended sentence revocations to run consecutively with other jurisdictions.
HB2131 changes the way sentenced are served when a person is convicted of two or more crimes.  Currently, sentences are served consecutively unless a judgment and sentences provides otherwise.  HB2131 provides that sentences will be served concurrently unless a judgment and sentences provides that they are to run consecutively. Concurrent means at the same time while consecutively is serving a sentence back to back.  The same applies to parole revocations and suspended sentences.  HB2131 has the potential to decrease the number of days an offender with multiple sentences will spend in a DOC facility. This is because two sentences of 2 years served consecutively would be a potential of 4 years in jail while concurrently served would still be 2 years.
The bill modifies the definition of “eligible offender” as used in the Oklahoma Community Sentencing Act to include offenders who have been assessed at a range other than the low range and who have been convicted of at least one prior felony offense. 
It also provides qualifications for eligibility to be appointed as a member of the Pardon and Parole Board.  Provides that the Governor shall have 30 calendar days to review parole recommendations for non-violent crimes and upon if no action is taken within the 30 days, the parole shall be deemed granted.  Parole recommendations for crimes of violence are exempted from the 30 day requirement and the Governor must grant or deny parole for persons convicted of a violent crime.
 Oklahoma is the only state that requires the governor to review every parole, which slows the process down and keeps people in prison longer.
Under HB 2131, decisions made by the Pardon and Parole Board on paroles for most nonviolent offenders will be honored if the governor does not act on that parole within 30 days after the Pardon and Parole Board issues its decision.
The governor would still be required to act on all paroles for violent offenders and could act on any nonviolent parole matter if he or she chose to do so.
Lowers from 180 days to 90 days the time which an offender must be incarcerated before the offender can be considered for electronic monitoring.  HB 2131 states that an inmate serving a sentence of more than 5 years who has 11 or more months or more left on a sentence or any inmate serving a sentence of 5 years or less whose initial custody assessment requires placement below the maximum security level are not eligible for community placement.
HB2131 expands eligibility for community sentencing, which will allow more offenders to qualify for community punishment in lieu of incarceration in a DOC facility.  The cost of community sentencing for FY-10 was approximately $3.50 per day or $1,280 annually compared to $56 per day or $20,000 annually for incarceration.  The Community Sentencing Program has an 80% success rate allowing offenders to receive treatment while remaining in the community working and supporting their families.  Expansion of the Community Sentencing Program will provide significant future cost savings to DOC.
“This is about addressing crime in Oklahoma in a better way that we all know exists but have yet to specifically identify,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “Thirty-six states have seen violent crime rate reductions in recent years, but Oklahoma’s violent crime rate remains unacceptably high. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative will determine why this is the case so policies can be developed to achieve better outcomes through our justice system.”
"In 2010, 4,350 inmates were released with no supervision whatsoever and without regard to the risk they pose. We need to conduct a review of our criminal justice system, from arrest through reentry, and determine where there are opportunities to improve how we do business,” Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, said.


  1. Could someone put this in English?

  2. Yes. The bill will make hundreds more inmates eligible for community sentencing programs, including drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and allow more offenders to serve their sentences outside prison by providing more GPS monitoring.
    Under community sentencing, an offender serves his or her sentence outside of prison under the supervision of a probation officer. Offenders are given a probation plan that lays out restrictions on their movement and activities and identifies needs such as substance abuse or mental health treatment, employment skills training, and education. Community sentencing systems are overseen by a local group of citizens and elected officials in each judicial district who work with DOC to locate treatment providers and resources.
    HB 2131 expanded who is eligible for community sentencing. Specifically, it made eligible non-violent offenders with less than two prior felony convictions but a high Level of Supervision Inventory (LSI). An LSI score is a measure of how likely someone is to reoffend.
    According to Amy Santee, a Senior Program Officer with the George Kaiser Family Foundation which sponsors the Women in Recovery program, research shows that while someone with a high LSI score is statistically more likely to offend, putting them in prison does not reduce the likelihood of re-offending after their sentences are over.
    Santee said that many are labelled high-risk by the LSI because they lack jobs or homes or they have an addiction. Community sentencing seeks to provide these people both supervision and the help they need to rehabilitate, instead of rotating them in and out of prison.
    Out of 9,373 offenders (7,980 male/1,393 female) received by DOC in FY ‘10, the department estimates that 1,756 (1,310 male/446 female) will be eligible for electronic monitoring instead of prison. Eligibility is limited to offenders who are assessed as presenting minimal risk to facility security and public safety, have sentences of five years or less, and do not fall under one of the categories restricted by statute from being in EMP, such as drug traffickers, sex offenders, or escapees from a penal institution within the previous 10 years.
    HB 2131 changes the process so that if the governor does not make any decision on paroles of non-violent offenders in 30 days, the parole board’s recommendation is automatically adopted. The governor will still be required to approve parole for violent offenders.

  3. so all non violent inmates who got 10yr sentences will not be eligible for early release...right?

  4. Does this affect non violent offenders who were are probation and are being app to revoke based on not doing community service hours? Please help!