On February 2, 2024, Oklahoma’s MODERN (Modernized Operations through Data and Evidence-based Restoration Now) Justice Task Force released its much-anticipated report with 15 data-driven recommendations to address jail populations, recidivism, cost-effectiveness, and public safety across the state. The report is the culmination of over a year of rigorous review of Oklahoma’s jails at the state and local level as part of a Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). The JRI effort began in August 2022, when Governor Kevin Stitt, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, House Speaker Charles McCall, and Administrative Director of the Courts Jari Askins jointly requested JRI technical support from the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI).
The Task Force spent months analyzing Oklahoma’s jail system using a sample of jail data provided by six counties across the state, evaluating current programs, discussing best practices and models from other states, and engaging in in-depth policy discussions. To ensure a balanced perspective, the Task Force gathered feedback from a variety of stakeholders including law enforcement officials, county leadership, behavioral health services, victims and survivors of crime, and formerly incarcerated individuals.
The Task Force has submitted the report to legislative leaders for consideration during the 2024 legislative session, which began on February 5th, 2024.
“Thanks to Governor Stitt’s vision and the dedication from my colleagues on the Task Force, Oklahoma will continue to lead the nation. Our justice system as we know it is unsustainable. The era of expecting our correctional officers and law enforcement to be mental health professionals must end. We recognize there’s a place for those who are struggling with mental health, and it’s not in jail. We’ll employ new strategies, such as centralizing our approach to sentencing and arresting fewer, yet smarter, to ensure fairness across the board while modernizing Oklahoma’s approach to criminal justice” — Secretary of Public Safety and Chair of the MODERN Justice Task Force, Tricia Everest, on Oklahoma’s revitalized approach to public safety.
The report’s recommendations address challenges in the local criminal justice systems across the state through various mechanisms, such as increasing treatment opportunities for individuals with behavioral health issues, expanding alternatives to arrest and incarceration, streamlining adjudicatory processes, and providing counties more opportunities to safely reduce unnecessary pretrial incarceration.
This JRI effort was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance—with support from Arnold Ventures and The Pew Charitable Trusts—and utilizes experts from CJI to provide technical assistance to state partners interested in using data to analyze and improve their justice systems.
Interested in learning more?
Check out the following resources for more information about Oklahoma’s MODERN Justice Task Force report:
- Full report
- Press release
- Media coverage