Oklahoma state capitol building against a blue sky. State flag flies in front.

On Tuesday, July 11, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt announced that a new task force will begin a first-of-its-kind intensive review of the state’s jails system by identifying evidence-based strategies to reduce crime and recidivism, enhance public safety, and increase opportunities for all Oklahomans.

The launch of the MODERN (Modernized Operations through Data and Evidence-based Restoration Now) Justice Task Force comes after Governor Stitt, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, House Speaker Charles McCall, and the Administrative Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts Jari Askins jointly requested facilitative and administrative support from the Crime and Justice Institute under the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, with funding from the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“With all three branches of government working together, we’re demonstrating to all four million Oklahomans the state’s commitment to strengthening public safety while ensuring our justice system works fairly and efficiently.” – Governor Stitt


What the Task Force will do

Over the next six months, the MODERN Justice Task Force will examine data from jails across Oklahoma and identify drivers behind the state’s high jail incarceration rate and large prevalence of incarcerated individuals with a behavioral health need. The Task Force will gather input from various stakeholders, including law enforcement officials, county leadership, behavioral health services, victims and survivors of crime, and formerly incarcerated individuals.

After completing its review, the MODERN Justice Task Force will look at research related to addressing system challenges and reducing recidivism and examine how other jurisdictions respond to similar challenges. The Task Force will then provide recommendations to the legislature for their consideration during the 2024 legislative session, which begins in February.

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