State Question 805

Oklahomans voted down both state questions on Tuesday’s ballot.

State Question 805 was voted down 61% to 39%. It would have ended the use of sentence enhancements for nonviolent felony crimes.

A report from the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs found such enhancements are used 80% of the time, despite prosecutors’ claims they use them selectively.

Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform Executive Director Kris Steele said the state’s second-highest in the nation incarceration rate still needs to be addressed.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

As Oklahomans started going to the polls on Thursday, more than 40 Tulsa faith leaders announced their support for State Question 805.

The measure would ban sentence enhancements for people convicted of nonviolent crimes. The religious leaders issued a statement in support of SQ805, citing Oklahoma’s disproportional incarceration rates and sentence lengths, especially for women and people of color.

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Gov. Kevin Stitt continues to say Oklahoma is handling the coronavirus pandemic well and is months ahead of other states.

During the Tulsa Regional Chamber State of the State on Tuesday, Stitt compared the state’s hospitalization numbers from earlier in the pandemic to now.

“You know, on March 30, we had 560 people in the hospital being treated for COVID across the state of Oklahoma. Yesterday, we had 504 people in the hospital with capacity well above that,” Stitt said.

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An initiative petition seeking to end the use of sentence enhancements for repeat, nonviolent offenses is eligible for Oklahoma’s November ballot.

State Question 805 cleared a 10-day period without being challenged. Supporters gathered around 260,000 signatures and had more than 248,000 counted, well in excess of the roughly 178,000 required.

Yes on 805 President Sarah Edwards said Oklahomans in prison for nonviolent offenses serve sentences 70% to 80% longer than prisoners in other states, and enhancements may be a driver of that disparity.

A conservative think tank is making the case for a ballot initiative that would do away with repeat offender sentence enhancements for nonviolent crimes.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs found enhancements were applied 80% of the time, despite district attorneys saying they’re used selectively. OCPA Executive Vice President Trent England said people convicted of petty crime or struggling with addiction shouldn’t go to prison for decades.

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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.