The Woodward News

Local News

March 9, 2013

Legislators look to add more felonies

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — Steele said the reinvestment plan has worked elsewhere, noting Texas tried a similar plan several years ago and was able to close a prison because of the drop in prisoners.

The Oklahoma Legislature continues to consider more and harsher penalties. This week, the Senate approved a bill to criminalize the plotting of a mass attack, such as a school shooting. Another bill would make damaging fences used for agriculture a felony. A proposal passed by the House creates a new felony specifically for assaulting a Department of Human Services worker.

"All of them will pass because no one wants to be viewed as soft on crime," said Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, who has voiced concerns with some of the felony proposals.

"We're adding felonies every year," she said, pointing to private prison interests, which have a stake in being full, as a possible culprit. "We've got to figure out where the happy medium is."

The average prison sentence in Oklahoma has almost doubled in length in the past two decades, according to the Pew Center on the States. Proponents say harsher penalties deter crime and eventually lower prison populations.

But research doesn't show harsher and longer sentences decrease crime, said Todd Clear, a professor of corrections policy and dean of the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice.

"The irony is the number of people in prison has very little to do with the crime rate," Clear said, noting that national crime rates have held steady since the 1970s while incarceration has jumped five-fold.

Steele, the former House Speaker, pointed to Oklahoma's violent crime rates, which have remained steady during the past decade — even with the state's high incarceration rates — while rates in most other states have fallen dramatically.

"The question is, what are we doing to address this concern if not justice reinvestment?" he said. "What's the plan?"

Text Only
Local News
  • Tulsa man looking for military friend

    There are times in everyone's life when you think back and wonder whatever happened to those old friends from your past.

    July 23, 2014

  • Zoning change approved by commission

    Monday night Woodward city commissioners unanimously approved a zoning change that was contested by one local man who was protesting because he wants the neighborhood to continue its residential growth.

    July 23, 2014

  • Tangier Reunion set for Saturday, Sunday

    When Barbara (Allison) Merwin thinks back to the years she spent in the classrooms of Tangier High School, it takes a few moments for her to recall how school life was 60 years ago.

    July 23, 2014

  • Traveler Majors take regional opener

    ALVA - The Traveler Majors continued their strong Connie Mack playoff showing at Northwestern Oklahoma State University Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • County OKs road use agreement

    Woodward County Commissioners on Monday approved a final version of a road use agreement between a energy company planning a wind turbine construction project near southeast Woodward County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Camp to show art is everywhere

    The Woodward Arts Theatre will become a recycling plant next week.

    July 22, 2014

  • Fairview Wrangler Rodeo turns 50 this year

    Western fun continues in Northwest Oklahoma as the Fairview Wrangler’s hosting their 50th annual rodeo.

    July 22, 2014

  • Common Core repeal has educators worried

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — With the Legislature's repeal of tough, new English and math standards known as Common Core, education leaders said they're concerned Oklahoma students will fall further behind their counterparts in more than 40 state which have implemented the standards.

    July 22, 2014

  • web1.jpg Travelers win Connie Mack state championship

    Down 2-0 and down to their final three outs, the Traveler Majors delivered a championship rally in the seventh inning Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 9 Photos

  • Hearing set on rezoning

    City commissioners will tackle rezoning items and a licensing agreement amendment Monday evening at the regularly scheduled meeting of the City of Woodward and Woodward Municipal Authority.

    July 20, 2014