Oklahoma prosecutors resist push for prison alternatives
The Associated Press - October 28, 2018 9:06 am
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Since the days of frontier justice, lawmakers in conservative Oklahoma have viewed harsh prison sentences as the politically expedient solution to crime.
That approach has imposed a high price, leaving the state with the nation’s highest incarceration rate, overcrowded prisons, and skyrocketing costs. After years of steady debate, there’s growing agreement – even among conservatives – that changes are needed.
However, the fragile consensus has crashed headlong into a towering obstacle – the entrenched ideology of the state’s top prosecutors. Many prosecutors have made political careers out of padding their conviction rates.
Brian Hermanson, a prosecutor in northern Oklahoma who heads the state district attorneys association, says prosecutors want to be part of a solution but fear that some of the changes that have been suggested could threaten public safety.