Mandatory Minimums

Oklahoma Governor Signs Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Reform Bill

Gives judges more leeway for alternatives in some situations.


Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin

Oklahoma's Republican Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law reforms that will allow judges some leeway and discretion from the state's many mandatory minimum sentences.

The state's Justice Safety Valve Act, HB 1518, will allow judges to give shorter sentences or divert some offenders to mental health or drug treatment programs for many nonviolent crime convictions if they deem it more helpful than prison.

Oklahoma has a very high incarceration rate, and more than 100 crimes with mandatory minimum sentences attached. The governor took note of the consequences when she signed the bill into law: "Violent criminals will continue to be incarcerated, but the fact is that one in 11 Oklahomans serve time in prison at some point in their lives."

Under the bill, judges would not be able to apply their discretion for violent crimes, sex crimes that would require offender registration, repeat crimes, or for crimes in which the defendant was a "leader of others in a continuing criminal enterprise."

But that's not the only criminal justice reform recently passed in Oklahoma. At the end of April the governor signed into law a bill that altered the state's occupational licensing rules to assist former offenders. Alas, HB 2168 doesn't eliminate occupational licensing in fields like architecture, cosmetology, surveying, athletic training, and several others. What it does do is allow the state to still license people in these fields who had been convicted of crimes, as long as said crimes are not connected to the fields in which they work. That's still a significant improvement.

Read more about the proposed federal version of the Justice Safety Valve Act, reintroduced in the latest Senate by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) here. The House companion legislation has been pushed forward by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.).

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  1. “Violent criminals will continue to be incarcerated, but the fact is that one in 11 Oklahomans serve time in prison at some point in their lives.”

    Soft. On. Crime.

    Also, sounds like she might be cutting into a major industry in Oklahoma.

    1. Significantly higher than 1 in 11 correctional officers will be incarcerated, so it all comes out in the wash.

      1. And chop shops and meth labs are major industries too. And those industries will be getting a break under this.

    2. Astounding that 9% are not only felons, but convicted ones! Makes me a little nervous.

    3. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……

  2. Alt Text: “Guys, I am, like, so high right now. Are there any pretzels left? Somebody go get pretzels. Am I smiling OK?”

    1. “Hurts… So much… Smiling through… Botox”

      1. Two words; MILF Porn. If liking botox is wrong, I don’t want to be right

    2. “Oh my god these Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, sea salt, and turbinado sugar coated almonds are like crack. Load me another bowl.”

    3. In all honesty, that picture makes her look smarter than she really is. She is the epitome of the ignorant and unscrupulous politician.

  3. This is the kind of reform that can happen when you put a progressive Democrat in office rather than some SOCON Republican.

    Oh wait…

    1. Republicans, the cause of and solution to all life’s problems?

      1. Unless the problem was started by a Democrat (Bill Clinton signed the Crime Bill passed by a Democratic Congress).

        Or a Republican working in a Bipartisan way with a Democratic Congress (Nixon started the Drug War with the support of the Democratic Congress, and the drug war during the Reagan years)

  4. Now, if only we can convince the Oklahoma Legislature and Governor to pass meaningful ballot access reform. Shoot, we can’t even convince them to pass meaningless ballot access reform.

  5. So maybe criminal law isn’t ratchet, but a (very, very ponderous) pendulum after all? Hard to be optimistic, what with daily nut punch, but conservative (yes?) state, Republican governor, and yet it still moves. So, may happen elsewhere, too, right?

  6. 1 in 11? needz moar lawz.


  7. I will say one thing for NLCB and Medicaid expansion, it has brought the cost of incarceration into the conversation at the state level. When you can’t print money, something has to get smaller when large programs get larger.

    1. That pizza delivery guy is dedicated.

      I do, however, suggestthat they hire the Deliverator going forward.

      1. Ehh it was on his way.

  8. Things need to change in Oklahoma. I spent time there last year and met a woman who’d been arrested for possessing a small amount of weed. She was convicted and sentenced to four years probation. During which time he had to submit to random drug tests and if she ever tested positive she’d be sent to jail for the remainder of her probation and lose her kids to CPS. Seriously, what a waste of taxpayer dollars…

    1. What are they testing for?

      I was on probation after a DUI 10 yrs ago- would have definitely tested positive for pot- but they only cared about oxy and meth.

  9. So you’re telling me that this dumb bitch and the raving lunatic morons in the Oklahoma legislature did something positive and productive with my dime? I think I’m going to die of fucking shock.

    1. this dumb bitch

      Finally, something on which Tony and I can agree!

  10. That 1 in 11 stat blows me away. Seriously.

  11. This chick is the executive for a state that is suing Colorado over legal weed. Forgive me if I don’t give her credit for this move.

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