Oklahoma City, OK – (July 11, 2023) – A WPAi poll, commissioned by Arnold Ventures and the Justice Action Network, shows that a majority of Oklahomans feel as safe, if not safer, as they did five years ago when the state of Oklahoma began implementing major public safety reforms that led to a reduction of the State’s prison population by at least 5,000 people resulting in the closure of three prison facilities.
“Oklahomans have held steadfast to the truth that recent criminal justice policies have improved their communities and overall public safety,” said Jenna Bottler, president and executive director of Justice Action Network. “This is welcome news after last year’s statewide campaign cycle that attempted to distort the Governor and the Legislature’s thoughtful, data-driven work to modernize its criminal justice system without sacrificing public safety.”
More than half of voters reported they are not tired of hearing about criminal justice improvements, with 71% of voters stating that not enough is being done to change the system.
“Oklahoma is proof that you can reduce incarceration and close prisons while also making people feel safer. Five years into the Governor’s effort, overall crime rates are on the decline and the state’s recidivism rate is one of the lowest in the nation,” said Alyson Clements, director of advocacy at Arnold Ventures. “The results speak for themselves and Oklahoma’s voters are placing a high level of trust in leadership with their continued interest in more solutions to reduce crime and incarceration.”
According to the WPAi poll, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly want solutions to reduce crime instead of increasing incarceration rates (a mere 3%), including a plurality of voters (39%) who believe taxpayer dollars should be prioritized on mental health treatment within the justice system.
“Oklahomans continue to trust Gov. Stitt to lead the charge for criminal justice,” wrote Trevor Smith of WPAi in its findings report. “The most effective message is about Gov. Stitt reducing the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders. The second most effective message is about the Oklahoma Legislature’s action to stop occupational licensing boards from denying an otherwise qualified person a license due to a past nonviolent record.”
Since 2019, the state of Oklahoma has enacted and facilitated the nation’s largest single-day commutation since the Civil War, introduced more educational opportunities and skills training for people incarcerated, reformed occupational licensing laws to expand work opportunities, and led the nation in passing the Sarah Stitt Act, to name a few of the most impactful changes.
The WPAi poll was conducted between April 25 – 27, 2023, with a sample size of 502 registered voters and a margin of error of 4.4%.
Bryanna Nickels, Bryanna.Nickel@Pinkston.Co
David Hebert, email@example.com