Crime Surges In Oklahoma In Wake Of Criminal Justice Reforms

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office has recovered over $500,000 in stolen property so far this year.

Oklahoma City, OK – Oklahoma law enforcement agencies have observed a surge in crime following a 2017 law change that reclassified certain drug and theft offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.

In 2016, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 780, which raised the threshold for felony theft or forgery from $500 to $1,000.

Drug possession offenses that had previously been classified as felonies were reclassified as misdemeanors.

After the law changes went into effect in 2017, law enforcement officers began noticing “a steady increase of thefts,” the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office (OKSO) said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), there was a seven percent uptick in larceny offenses within Oklahoma County in 2017 and 2018, KWTV reported.

In 2019 alone, the OKSO has recovered over $500,000 worth of stolen property, the department said.

OCSO spokesperson Mark Meyers said that the trend appears to be one of the “repercussions” of the law changes, according to KWTV.

“What we’re finding is, it’s basically just a free-for-all right now through portions of Oklahoma County,” Meyers told the news outlet. “And there’s a lot of folks getting their stuff stolen.”

Many criminals have even boasted about using the criminal reform law for their own benefit.

“We’re also finding inmates or criminals we're speaking with are bragging about it,” Meyers told WKTV. “They understand the law and even take calculators with them to make sure they are stealing less than $1,000.”

In order to combat the growing problem, the OCSO and other area law enforcement agencies have banded together to establish the Multi-Jurisdiction Anti-Crime Support Effort (MASE).

“They are sharing resources, information, working with each other on similar cases, determining if they have similar suspects,” Meyers explained said of the 13-agency task force.

The crime surge has not come as a surprise to many law enforcement agencies.

“The first person to stand up and say ‘Here’s a solution,’ doesn’t make it the right solution,” Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Mark Nelson told KWTV in 2016. “We weren’t asked at all – through any of this process.”

Earlier this month, criminal justice reforms in Oklahoma resulted in the largest single-day mass commutation in the history of the United States.

A total of 462 inmates were released from prisons across the state on Nov. 4, NBC News reported.

The mass release was also the result of the ballot proposals approved by voters in 2016, The Oklahoman reported.

The legislation established an expedited commutation process for inmates who were sentenced to prison for felonies that were reduced to misdemeanors while they were serving time, The Oklahoman reported.

Under the legislation, offenders with old convictions on their records were also provided with a simplified expungement process.

Leigh Silverhorn was released from Kate Barnard Community Correctional Facility after serving just six months of her 10-year drug possession sentence, FOX News reported.

“I’m excited,” Silverhorn said as she left the prison nearly a decade earlier than planned. “I’m ready. I’m ready to go.”

Shannon Brown was sentenced to 12 years in prison for drug possession, but walked out of prison on Monday after serving less than two years.

"Thank God for the 780 law and great people who voted for it,” Brown declared, according to KOKH.

Lana Lemus has served approximately three years of her 10-year drug possession sentence.

“It’s the great thing that the governor is doing so we can be home with our kids,” Lemus told KOCO.

As long as none of the hundreds of released prisoners reoffend, the state will save nearly $12 million due to their early releases, FOX News reported.

“This marks an important milestone of Oklahomans wanting to focus the state's efforts on helping those with nonviolent offenses achieve better outcomes in life," Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said of the mass release.

"The historic commutation of individuals in Oklahoma's prisons is only possible because our state agencies, elected officials, and partnering organizations put aside politics and worked together to move the needle," he noted.

Comments (27)
No. 1-17
DocRyder
DocRyder

Only an absolute idiot would be surprised by this...

ScaleriBrosLawyer
ScaleriBrosLawyer

Well, no shit.

Y'all
Y'all

What do you think would happen? Nothing

Jim H. - Virginia US
Jim H. - Virginia US

www.sos.ok.gov/documents/questions/780.pdf

  • Controlled substances
  • Larceny (theft)
  • Property offenses, including embezzlement or false pretense
  • pawnbrokers
  • forgery or counterfeiting
  • second and subsequent offenses

(increases felony amount to $1000 from $500 for many offenses)

The justification for the bill is included in Section 1. It states that OK has the second highest incarceration rate in the nation. The goal is to reduce taxpayer expense and prevent criminals "from getting an education or a job."

Read it yourself. I really doubt that criminal offenses are a serious barrier to getting an education. Job, yes, but choices have consequences.

RetiredCorrections
RetiredCorrections

This should not be a surprise, what did they anticipate?

flybynight
flybynight

Shocking, just shocking.......... said no one ever. 🙄

Excalibr4
Excalibr4

Fresh in! From the "So how's that working out for you?" department!

NTPD935Ret
NTPD935Ret

And I always thought people in Oklahoma were decent, hard working, God fearing, law abiding folks that believed in law and order. How was this ever voted in?

jarhead24
jarhead24

Democratic law makers and city government trying to protect their criminal voters. All a part of the socialist progressive animals tearing law enforcement and the courts to pieces. Every major city has a Democrat D.A. and a Democrat mayor. The media including social media has basically shut down officers from doing what they need to do to catch these thug 4 life perps. If you get a chance watch the new documentary called the Trayvon Martin hoax. You will see how deeply embedded Obama was in the whole hoax. He used it as a re-election tool. Eventually the law abiding Americans of this country must face the facts that the criminals, corrupt politicians and judges must be dealt with!! Let’s hope for the best and prepare for the worse.

PAC416
PAC416

Is there not a provision in the law that three misdemeanor arrest become a felony? It is that way in some states.

observer1
observer1

In the mid 1930s a famous newspaper man and "sage" named H.L. Mencken wrote the following in quotes. What he wrote also explains the rise of Socialism in America. The words self created misery come to mind. "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the American people"

Stanracer
Stanracer

This is what you get from liberal lawmakers.

mousegun
mousegun

So here's the thing... when we read that people are doing 10 years for drug possession, it sounds bad, like that's too long. But what they don't say is 9x out of 10 those charges were pled down significantly from what they actually did. And we don't know what the recidivism rate is going to be bc they just got out on Nov 4th. I'm not sure OK will like the result of this law change...I'm from CA, I should know. Our state is a literal shit hole now, all thanks to feel good reforms. 🙄 Good luck Oklahoma!

Oldblue2
Oldblue2

All you have to do now is stop reporting the new crimes, and then the crime stats go down!! Easy peasy, everyone is happy

Zpwjs
Zpwjs

The whole thing is trying to reduce prosecution and incarceration costs. I would agree this is a horrible way of going about such a need.

RetAPD75
RetAPD75

Alaska had SB91 for a few years that sounds a lot like SQ780. It didn’t work. Crime increased significantly. That bill was repealed this year and already we’re seeing a reduction in crime. It won’t work. Recidivism rates will likely be around 70% or greater, and any cost savings the state has will just be picked up by the citizens who have to replace everything that is stolen. Been there done that. Repeal it as quickly as you can.

tuggingalong
tuggingalong

Sounds like California but the difference is Oklahomans will reverse the law if it becomes a financial burden on business owners.