STATE QUESTION 805 FACT SHEET
SQ 805 is a sentencing reform that would end the use of repeat sentence penalties for nonviolent offenses. Under current Oklahoma law, individuals with one or more prior convictions can face sentence penalties that stack years, decades and even life in prison on top of already extreme prison sentences. As a result, people in Oklahoma spend far longer in prison for nonviolent crimes than people in other states, with no benefit to public safety.
WHY IS REMOVING THESE REPEAT SENTENCE PENALTIES IMPORTANT? Oklahoma’s sentence penalties for nonviolent offenses contribute to Oklahoma’s third-highest imprisonment rate in the country. The result is that Oklahoma taxpayers pay more than half a billion dollars each year with no improvement in public safety. This does not have to be the case. Time and time again, states have shown that reducing crime and incarceration go hand-in-hand.
SQ 805 DOES NOT ELIMINATE SERIOUS PENALTIES FOR VIOLENT CRIMES, INCLUDING SERIOUS DOMESTIC ABUSE AND ASSAULT CRIMES. • SQ 805 does not reduce or change the underlying sentence for any crime. • For example, individuals convicted of patterns of domestic violence or abuse will still face a prison sentence of up to ten years. • SQ 805 does not eliminate pattern penalties, meaning someone who has multiple misdemeanor DUI or misdemeanor domestic abuse offenses can still be enhanced to a felony offense and face prison time.
visit YesOn805.org for more information about what voting YES on 805 does & does not do.
Point of View: SQ 805 a bad idea for Oklahoma
BY FRANK KEATING
This constitutional amendment is the ultimate gift to the career criminal and the insect crime wave of the lifetime repeat offender. The language says that if you commit a “violent crime,” and there are 52 listed, you can have the book thrown at you. However, if you commit any other of the hundreds of criminal acts, including many that are very serious and dangerous, a second offense remains a first offense for punishment. No matter how many times you offend. There is no “enhancement” permitted. “After Former Conviction of a Felony” will become a useless phrase. A person’s selfish and destructive long life of crime will be handled as one first offense after another. The fifteenth offense is the first offense as far as punishment goes.
Let’s look at examples. Repeat drunk drivers who have caused injury. Incest. Trafficking in children. Hate crimes. Stalking and violation of protective orders. Drug distribution.
How many times can a criminal do these? As many as they wish. Each time, they will be treated as a first offender. Click here to view the entire article.
Palomar, Oklahoma City's Family Justice Center, does not currently support SQ805. Domestic violence is for the most part considered a non-violent crime in Oklahoma so Palomar feels that passing SQ805 will assist perpetrators of domestic abuse crimes in victimization towards their victims.
Please view their fact sheet/opinion by visiting the link provided. house_bill_3251._sq805_._fact_sheet.pdf
Oklahoma Council Of Public Affairs
Open letter corrects the record on SQ 805, misuse of OCPA research
To the Office of the Governor,
We are writing to you today to correct several inaccuracies circulating about the State Question 805 ballot initiative.
It has come to our attention that some individuals are stating SQ 805 will allow sentencing relief for 83% of the entire Oklahoma prison population. This is factually untrue and an odd misinterpretation of the OCPA report the letter cites as its source. The report states that 83% of individuals who are eligible to apply for a modified sentence and early release are in prison for drug or property offenses. Those eligible represent far less than 83% of all inmates.
In reality, only an estimated 8% of Oklahoma’s overall prison population would be eligible for resentencing, just over 2,000 people. Of these 2,000 individuals, 83% (almost 1,700), are incarcerated for drug or property offenses and approximately 300 are in for all other crimes, including driving under the influence, possessing a firearm after a felony conviction, and all domestic abuse or other legally nonviolent person offenses combined.
Additionally, there are claims SQ 805 will “lessen penalties” for eligible nonviolent offenses. SQ 805 will not eliminate maximum sentences for any offense nor reduce or change the underlying sentence for any crime. It will continue to allow judges and juries to take previous crimes into account when sentencing. Legislators will still have power to add or remove crimes from the violent crime list or change the underlying sentence for any offense. That means if Oklahoma legislators decide that sentences are too short or too long for any charge, they have the power to make adjustments.
Finally, it is factually incorrect that SQ 805 will lessen penalties for child trafficking in any way. Human trafficking and trafficking of a child are violent crimes in Oklahoma. Anyone convicted of trafficking a child faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years and a maximum sentence of life. SQ 805 will not impact the sentencing range for trafficking a minor or make it more difficult to hold people accountable for this horrendous crime.
-- click here to be redirected to the full article/letter.
Myth vs. Fact: SQ 805 and domestic violence
State Question 805, which Oklahomans will vote on this November, would limit this sentence enhancement to crimes that the Legislature has classified as violent. Repeat offenders could still be sentenced at or near the top of the range for their crime. The Legislature would also retain the power to increase the sentencing range for any crime.
One category of crime that opponents focus on is domestic violence offenses. (Future articles will address other crimes opponents bring up.) These opponents correctly point out that the Legislature has not classified many domestic violence offenses as violent offenses. This includes violence against a pregnant woman, in front of children, strangulation, domestic violence resulting in great bodily injury, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Let me say first: if State Question 805 did anything to make it easier for violent domestic abusers, I wouldn’t support it. Who would? But a closer look at law and policy shows that opponents of State Question 805 are not telling “the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
As any prosecutor or defense attorney can attest, there are few run-of-the-mill domestic abuse cases. Some are vicious assaults by men against women and children. Others are verbal, but still result in criminal charges. Some involve children against parents, wives against husbands, and even siblings or roommates against each other. Classifying a crime as violent can result in much longer sentences, which in some cases makes it much harder to bring charges, get witnesses to testify, and ultimately achieve a conviction. In other words, the Legislature has had its reasons to not classify all domestic abuse as a violent offense.
When domestic abuse does turn violent, there is no shortage of statutorily defined violent crimes that can be—and are—used to prosecute these offenders. A list of all 52 crimes classified as violent offenses can be found here. Statutorily defined violent offenses that could be charged against a perpetrator of domestic violence include various forms of assault and battery, murder, manslaughter, maiming, child abuse, and various sexual crimes. In other words, prosecutors already have choices, in many cases, about whether to charge a defendant with a crime classified as violent or not.
This statute provides what is, in effect, a sentence enhancement for repeat domestic abusers—but this statute is untouched by State Question 805. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison. And it does not even require a prior conviction, but only credible testimony of at least one prior act of domestic abuse. In other words, there is already a separate sentence enhancement available to prosecutors in Oklahoma for domestic abuse crimes and it is unaffected by State Question 805.
As stated earlier, I will address other crimes in another article. When it comes to domestic abuse, SQ 805’s detractors are attempting to scare Oklahomans from pursuing desperately needed sentencing reform. Oklahoma recently improved two spots, from 49th to 47th, in incarceration—all while crime rates went down. State Question 805 is good policy designed to help continue both of those positive trends.
More OCPA articles:
SQ805 – bad for Oklahoma
State Question 805 seeks to change the Oklahoma Constitution to prohibit the use of prior criminal convictions to increase the range of punishment for repeat offenders. This prohibition against sentence enhancements applies to all felonies, except the 52 violent crimes as defined on Jan. 1, 2020.
By enshrining SQ 805 in the constitution, these prohibitions can only be changed with a subsequent vote of the people. The Oklahoma District Attorneys Association voted unanimously to oppose SQ 805. As president of the Association, I want to ensure citizens understand what SQ 805 actually does.
Crime victims will no longer be able to rely on the sentence they were promised, and the prior decisions of judges and juries will be overturned.
Proponents of SQ 805 would have you believe that if SQ 805 is passed, prosecutors can just avoid the consequences of the law by finding a crime on the “violent crime” list with a higher penalty to charge instead, even though the facts, law, and ethical rules require otherwise. Not all crimes could even have an alternate offense that could be charged. If the stated goal of SQ 805 is to reduce sentences for habitual offenders, why are proponents of SQ 805 the ones asserting that prosecutors can just over-charge someone with a violent crime that carries a higher sentence range to circumvent the consequences of the very constitutional amendment they are seeking? It is circular logic, at best.
When you hear claims from proponents of SQ 805, I would encourage you to take a step back. The stated goal of this group is to lower prison sentences for habitual criminals. They argue cost savings by reducing the number of people in prison, but they fail to address the costs to public safety. If you want to know what the true cost of crime looks like, just ask a crime victim.
Angela Marsee is president of the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association and has 24 years of experience as a prosecutor. She authored this in her personal capacity.
Jeff Smith EufaulaIndianJournal.com op-ed
click here to be redirected to the full article/letter.
The mission of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board is to reduce the number of domestic violence related deaths by reviewing homicide cases and developing recommendations to better protect and serve victim of domestic violence. In my thirteen years as a Board member, I have reviewed far too many deaths.
I’ve learned through my experience that domestic violence is an insidious crime where offenders intentionally and repeatedly use violence to exercise power and control over their victims. The dynamics of domestic violence include repeat behavior over time, often with escalating acts of violence. A review of domestic violence fatality cases by the Board between 1998 and 2015 indicates that in 62% of the cases, intimate partner homicide victims experienced physical violence by the homicide perpetrator prior to their homicide. Sadly, domestic violence is a significant precursor to child abuse fatalities. In 2018, there were 105 domestic violence related fatalities. 14 of those deaths were children, the youngest being just three months old.
To make things even worse, SQ805 doesn’t just prohibit the use of sentence enhancements to future cases. SQ805 applies the law retroactively and mandates hearings to reduce sentences for domestic violence offenders who are currently serving time in prison. This means repeat abusers would automatically qualify to have their sentences reduced, undoing the prior decisions of judges or juries and placing victims and their children at risk of harm.
Oklahoma has come a long way in our efforts to address victim safety while seeking to reduce domestic violence fatalities. By limiting accountability for abusers, SQ805 threatens to halt that progress and take our State dangerously backwards.
Jeff Smith has served as the District Attorney for District 16, Latimer and Leflore Counties since 2007 and has been a prosecutor for 24 years.
WHY SQ 805 IS A TRAGEDY FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS
by JACOBI WHATLEY on Thu, 10/15/2020, Okeene Record
click here to be redirected to the full article/letter.
SQ 805 will give no hope to victims of domestic violence. Currently, if an offender commits a felony act of domestic violence and has other prior felonies that are not domestic related, their sentence may still be enhanced to higher ranges of punishment. Proponents of SQ 805 want you to believe that domestic offenses will not apply to SQ 805 because some of these crimes are now categorized as violent. This simply is not true. SQ 805 defines “violent felony” as felony offenses that were specified as violent on January 1, 2020. No domestic violence offenses were categorized as violent at that time.
If SQ 805 passes, it will not matter how many times a domestic violence offender hits, beats, punches, strangles, or stabs someone they are in an intimate partner relationship with, they will serve the same amount of time in DOC as if it were their first offense. It will not matter whether it was their first felony conviction or their twentieth felony conviction.
Victims would have to return to court at a modification hearing mandated by SQ805 to reduce their offender’s sentence. SQ805 seeks to limit the penalty for repeat offenders of domestic violence even though research indicates that physical violence, psychological abuse and economic abuse are repetitive patterns and that domestic violence is the single major precursor to child fatalities in the United States. Victims deserve better than SQ805.
Jacobi Whatley is an Assistant District Attorney in Cleveland County and former Assistant District Attorney in Blaine, Canadian, and Kingfisher Counties.