More criminal reform proposed

With the passage of State Question 780, Oklahoma has now allowed a thief to steal twice as much property and possess twice as many drugs before it is considered a felony; but yet, this is called “Criminal Justice Reform”.

Almost two years have passed since this bill went into effect and now more “Criminal Justice Reform” has been proposed in the form of Senate Bill 252. This bill would release prisoners arrested for a crime if they don’t have enough money to pay bail.

Section ‘D’ of the bill says, “Bail shall not be set in an amount higher than what the court determines is necessary to ensure the person’s return to court, and it shall not be set in amount that results in the person’s pretrial detention. The court shall consider a person’s ability to pay when setting bail and shall set money bail only upon finding that person has the present ability to pay the amount required for release.”

Based on that language it seems that:

* Only the defendants that are denied bail are going to be detained.

* Every indigent defendant shall be released without bail.

As long as the defendant does not carry money with them when they commit a crime, they will be released from jail without a bond since there is no definition of “present ability to pay.”

As of April this year, 59 percent of non-bail releases failed to appear for arraignment. As cases continue, statistics show that an average of 70 percent will likely fail to appear and most are going to use taxpayer-funded public defender offices.

But the issues with Senate Bill 252 go even further than that. Section ‘B’ goes on to take away discretion of the District Attorney’s office to see if charges are warranted and what types of charges; while Section ‘E’ states that if a judge decides to deny bail, then he has only 48 hours to make the presumption that the defendant is most likely guilty. So in effect, it is preventing or even rushing justice.

Senate Bill 252 is not Criminal Justice Reform. It is Criminal Welfare. Allowing people to steal and deal only to be released if they did not show up for their hearing. It is up to the sheriff to go and find criminals and they do so at the counties and taxpayers’ expense. This is what bail bondsmen are for. If a criminal wants out of jail then it is their responsibility to pay for their crimes, not the taxpayer.

For more information, contact Sen. Mark Allen at 405-521-5576 or allen@oksenate.gov


Support local journalism, the Heavener Ledger and ledgerlcj.com and subscribe to the Ledger. Like the Heavener Ledger on Facebook HERE or follow us on Twitter HERE.

Get our free daily email updates and never miss a story: http://eepurl.com/cCIqGL

The Heavener Ledger

P.O. Box 38
Heavener, OK 74937
918-653-2425