OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A group seeking to reduce Oklahoma’s high prison incarceration rate delivered more than 260,000 signatures to the state on Monday as part of its effort to get a state question on the ballot.
Volunteers with Yes on 805 delivered the boxes to the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Office. They need about 178,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify the question for a statewide ballot. The governor will set the date of the election once the signatures have been counted.
Yes on 805, a group of business, political and religious leaders, is seeking to amend the state constitution to prohibit prosecutors from using previous felony convictions to enhance prison sentences. It would also allow people who already had such sentence enhancements to petition the courts for relief. They say this practice leads to Oklahoma prisoners serving far more time behind bars than inmates in other states, especially for drug and property crimes.
Most of the state prosecutors and Gov. Kevin Stitt oppose the state question.
“Our state and our prosecutors have long been about giving folks second chances, but repeated violation of the public trust should not be tolerated,” the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association said in a statement.