Committee Passes CJR Bill Named After First Lady Sarah Stitt

Mike Seals - February 25, 2021 10:40 pm

After the House adjourned from its scheduled business Friday morning, Oct. 27, 2017, several lawmakers remained in the chamber and visited in smaller groups. Democrat legislators huddle at bottom right while Republican members gather on the left side of the room. (AP/The Oklahoman)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Reps. Marilyn Stark, R-Bethany, and Brian Hill, R-Mustang, today passed House Bill 1679, also known as the “Sarah Stitt Act,” through the Oklahoma House of Representatives Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee.

House Bill 1679 would require the Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections (DOC) to identify inmates leaving custody within the next nine months and begin gathering certain documentation to assist the inmate in obtaining post-release employment, including a four-year state ID. The bill was presented in committee by Stark.

“We know a criminal record can make it extremely difficult for a person to find gainful employment, and without that employment chances are high that they will ultimately return to prison,” Stark said. “House Bill 1679 will help ease some of the burden facing our citizens leaving incarceration and prepare them to become contributing members of society as they transition back into civilian life.”

Other documentation includes vocational training records, work records, state-issued identification cards, birth certificates, Social Security cards and resumes. In 2019, Stark held an interim study over providing state IDs for inmates upon their release.

“First Lady Sarah Stitt saw the need to prepare people leaving incarceration during the November 2019 historic commutations with the tools they will need to find a job, secure housing and begin to rebuild their lives,” Hill said. “Her work in criminal justice reform should be commended, and it’s an honor to again advance legislation to applaud her efforts to aid Oklahomans in this way.”

The bill is a combination of Stark’s House Bill 1310 and Hill’s House Bill 3113, which both passed the House unanimously in 2020 but ultimately were not heard in the Senate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hill named HB3113 after Oklahoma First Lady Sarah Stitt to recognize her work to prepare people leaving incarceration to find employment prior to the historic commutations in Nov. 2019.

“House Bill 1679 puts into law the idea behind the re-entry fairs that were started in November 2019,” Stitt said. “It is so important to the Governor and me that our fellow Oklahomans have the resources and support they need in order to successfully transition back into society. This bill aligns with that vision, and I am excited to see it become a permanent fixture of our corrections system.”

Having passed committee 4-0, HB 1679 is now eligible to be heard on the House floor. It is authored in the Senate by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore.


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