In the latest Capitol Report segment, news analyst Patrick B. McGuigan sketched the depth of challenges facing Oklahoma’s prison system, which is operating at 109 percent of capacity. The prison population could grown 25 percent in the next decade, the CapitolBeatOK editor said, unless long-delayed criminal justice reforms are implemented. Flattening the prison numbers could save the state half-a-billion or more over a decade, he told News9 reporter Alex Cameron. Consensus for reform has existed since 2012, and was reemphasized in statewide votes on a pair of state question last November.
However, a determined group of Republican legislators have repeatedly delayed or eroded the reform effort. McGuigan told Cameron, veteran reporter for the CBS News affiliate in Oklahoma City, that if reforms fail to gain implementation, the Republican majority will deserve a backlash from voters.
In other news, McGuigan summarized a new story he wrote about a new public opinion survey from CMA Strategies and Pat McFerron. The conservative pollster found strong support for “legal status” (as opposed to citizenship) for undocumented immigrants. In related news, McGuigan applauded a new group based in Tulsa, FWD.us, that is pushing for a long-term journey to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding immigrants.