America jails more of its citizens than any other nation. Oklahoma leads the nation in incarceration rates. Our system of “justice” not only destroys families, but has systematically devastated entire communities. It serves as a substitute for mental health treatment and substance abuse programs. For-profit prisons create a demand for prisoners. Harsh laws feed that demand. The economic drain on our budgets continues to grow. It’s past time for common sense and caring to take the place of this ongoing injustice.
We should invest in mental health and substance abuse programs, not jail cells. People with mental health and addiction issues should not be treated as violent criminals. Many of these folks are desperately looking for help. We should be compassionate, not callous, in how we treat these individuals. Also, the expense of these programs is more cost-effective and produces better outcomes for all of us.
Greater focus on keeping kids in school. One part of our overall investment in education must be programs to keep at-risk youth in school. There is a direct correlation of those who do not graduate high school going to prison.
Skills training for inmates is vital. Programs that teach skills that can create opportunity beyond a minimum wage job upon release will help break a cycle of desperation that leads people to commit minor crime just to make ends meet.
Relax mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders. These federal sentencing guidelines tie the hands of judges and lock people away for life on minor offenses. The punishment should fit the crime. Not the demands of private prisons for inmates.
We need to invest in people and not in prisons.
Our campaign will be spending time on a REAL discussion about the future of our criminal justice system and what can be done to fix it. We want to hear from you, no matter who you are! In the coming months, we’ll be featuring the stories of people all over the Fifth District here. We welcome all viewpoints to help everyone involved understand the challenges we face together.