Bail Reform is Possible this Session


While Oklahoma’s criminal justice system continues to make national news, locally legislators have the opportunity to begin to address our mass incarceration crisis, including the 70 percent of Oklahomans who are being detained in county jails pre-trial.

In Oklahoma, money bail means people who have never had their day in court spend weeks, if not months or years locked in a jail cell. While bail is supposed to be used as a mechanism to ensure someone reappears in court, arbitrary money amounts mean Oklahoma families and communities suffer when someone cannot buy a chance at justice.

Money bail is meant to provide an assurance that people accused of a crime return for their court date. In reality, it creates two systems in our pay-for-play legal system, one for those with enough money to buy their freedom pre-trial and one that holds those who cannot pay for ransom, an unjust leverage that often forces people into unfair plea agreements.

This session, legislators have the opportunity to start granting people equal justice under the law by making meaningful changes to our appalling pre-trial justice system. SB 252 would be an incredible start for addressing the number of people in Oklahoma jail by impacting the process of setting bail in Oklahoma, requiring judges to consider a person’s ability to pay when setting conditions of pre-trial release, and setting timelines for initial appearances after arrest.

But what your legislator does not know is that they have your support in moving this bold legislation forward. Let’s let legislators know Oklahomans support meaningful criminal justice reform and want changes made to our current two-tier, pay-to-play bail system.

Message Recipients:
Members of the State House Judiciary Committee

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Your Message

As a voter, I am reaching out to let you know my support for meaningful criminal justice reform, specifically the positive impact SB252 would make on our current pre-trial system. I am concerned about the 70 percent of Oklahomans who are being detained in county jails pre-trial, assumed innocent by our justice system, but being held ransom because they cannot pay the arbitrary bail amounts that are standard across our state.

I urge you to support meaningful criminal justice reform this session and not water down bills that could have a major impact in our community, as well as our state. State Question 780 was a starting point—support for real reform oriented on solutions for changing our outdated criminal legal system is only growing.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to seeing your contributions to the change our criminal justice system so desperately needs. Having the highest incarceration rate per capita in the world is nothing to be proud of and changing our rate of pre-trail detention will have a huge impact on our system for years to come.


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