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.