Bail Reform is Possible this Session
TAKE ACTION NOW
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.
Members of the State House Judiciary Committee