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State Question 805 potential impact on domestic violence in Oklahoma

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Posted at 3:24 AM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-28 19:39:56-04

TULSA, Okla. — With less than a week until Election Day and early voting starting tomorrow, Oklahomans can expect to see many items on the ballot this year, including State Question 805.

If passed, State Question 805 would end repeat sentence penalties for nonviolent offenses in the state of Oklahoma, said officials with Oklahomans for Sentencing Reform.

If State Question 805 is not passed, someone convicted of a nonviolent offense can receive greater sentences based on their past felony convictions.

READ MORE: Voters to decide on State Question 805, reduced prison sentences for 'nonviolent' offenders

When it comes to domestic violence, there are certain acts that are considered a nonviolent crime in Oklahoma. For example, striking a pregnant woman, beatings that include broken bones, or beating conducted in front of a child. This past summer, Governor Stitt signed a bill making specific acts of domestic violence a violent crime. Those acts are domestic abuse by strangulation, domestic assault with a dangerous weapon, domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, or domestic assault and battery with a deadly weapon.

State Question 805 applies to all crimes that were considered non-violent on Jan. 1. If approved by voters, sentences could not be enhanced for repeat domestic abuse offenders since the new bill was signed after Jan. 1 of this year.

2 Works for You spoke with the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, Nicole McAfee.

McAfee said Oklahoma is one of the states with the worst rates of harm against women, and the state continues to lead the world in rate of female incarceration since the 1990s.

She believes voting yes on State Question 805 ends a bad policy.

“2/3 of the women in Oklahoma prisons are survivors of domestic violence," McAfee said. "So when we talk about who the state question benefits, survivors are at the forefront of that. We also lead the world in rate of female incarceration. That has been true since the early 1990’s, and we know the women incarcerated are just proportionately survivors of intimate partner and domestic violence.”

McAfee said she hopes State Question 805 passes on Nov. 3, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma can immediately pass into the next legislative session a conversation regarding ways to disrupt domestic violence.

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