OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The ACLU of Oklahoma’s Campaign for Smart Justice and community partners will host a press conference on Tuesday, February 25, focused on criminal justice reform. It will be held at the Oklahoma State Capitol in the Capitol Press Room, Room 432B, 2300 N Lincoln Blvd, at 1:45 p.m. in Oklahoma City.
The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is a multi-year effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50 percent and to combat racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Oklahoma holds the title for the highest females incarceration rate in the world. The racial disparities of Oklahoma prisons show that black men are five times as likely to serve time as their white male counterparts.
Imprisonment, a brutal and costly response to crime that traumatizes incarcerated people and hurts families and communities, should be the last option, not the first, according to the ACLU-OK.
Nicole McAfee, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the ACLU of Oklahoma will comment on the current uncertainty around meaningful criminal justice reform legislation.
Other event speakers include Kristen Harlin, Executive Director of Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries (CJAMM) and Reginald Hines, President of National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice Oklahoma Chapter.
One key issue for the ACLU-OK is Governor Kevin Stitt’s Criminal Justice Reentry, Supervision, Treatment and Opportunity Reform (RESTORE) Task Force.
In a release issued last month, McAfee made the following statement regarding RESTORE.
“This report, while created by folks whose intentions are good, starts with the idea we should be focusing on punishment, and how we change our punishment, rather than how we address the social issues we’ve criminalized over decades of tough on crime policy,” said McAfee.
“From start to finish, our criminal legal system disproportionately harms Black people, indigenous people, people who are undocumented, LGBTQ+ people, women, people with disabilities, and people in poverty,” McAfee added.
“What we have now is a system that from your first interaction with police holds you for ransom in the clutches of a predatory lending based bail model and tries to leverage you into a plea rather than granting you a day in court, one that falls short of our Constitutional standards, and needs bold policy fixes in place urgently,” she added.
“The people being harmed by our years of studies and inaction cannot wait.”
The 15-person Task Force is led by the Governor’s Secretary of Public Safety, Chip Keating and Attorney General Mike Hunter.
“While we should always look to data and best practices, we do not need another round of meetings and reports, but action based on the cumulation of decades of data by local and national experts in the field of criminal legal reform,” according to the ACLU-OK site.
For more information about ACLU-OK, visit acluok.org.