OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday added a state question on criminal justice to the Nov. 3 Election Day ballot.
Stitt, a Republican, signed an executive proclamation setting the election date for State Question 805 which, if approved by voters, would prohibit prosecutors from using prior felony convictions to enhance sentences for nonviolent crimes. The initiative, spearheaded by a group of business, political and religious leaders, would also allow defendants who already had such sentence enhancements to petition the courts for relief.
Supporters say such enhancements lead to Oklahoma prisoners serving far more time behind bars than inmates in other states, especially for drug and property crimes. They gathered about 260,000 signatures to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for the ballot, far exceeding the 178,000 signatures they needed.
But Stitt and most state prosecutors oppose the plan. In a statement, the District Attorneys Association said repeated violations of state law should not be tolerated. Stitt said he didn’t like the idea of enshrining the proposal in the Oklahoma Constitution.