SQ 780 & 781: State Question focuses on criminal justice reform in Oklahoma
11:02 AM, Oct 15, 2016
4:56 PM, Nov 4, 2016
Are you ok with certain drug possessions and property crimes being reclassified as a misdemeanor instead of a felony?
That is the gist of State Question 780.
The measure would make possession of a limited quantity of drugs a misdemeanor. It would also increase the threshold dollar amount used for certain property crimes to determine if they are a felony or misdemeanor. Currently, the threshold is $500. Passage of SQ 780 would increase that amount to $1,000.
Property crimes covered by this change include; false declaration of a pawn ticket, embezzlement, larceny, grand larceny, theft, receiving or concealing stolen property, taking domesticated fish or game, fraud, forgery, counterfeiting, or issuing bogus checks.
If passed, SQ 780 would become effective July 1, 2017.
State Question 781 passes only if its companion measure passes. SQ 781 would create the County Community Safety Investment Fund which would collect the calculated savings after reclassifying certain drug possessions and property crimes as misdemeanors. The money would be used for rehabilitative services such as mental health and substance abuse.
According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, supporters say low-level crimes contributes to the growth of prison population; without a felony conviction, offenders stand a better chance of finding employment; the state can use the money saved to fund substance abuse and mental health.
Opponents say offenders are less likely to complete substance abuse treatment; Prosecutors wouldn't be able to use the threat of a felony drug possession charge to compel testimony against another person; there is no guidance on how the calculation of savings should be made.