March 20, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: Trav Robertson
P: 405.427.3366


Governor Goes Out of Way to Stop Justice Reinvestment Initiative from Working

Oklahoma City – Gov. Mary Fallin actively worked to inhibit those in charge of the implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) in order to help private prison contractors that have contributed money to her campaign, and then covered it up until the gutting of JRI was complete. She is starving DOC of funds, staffing is down sixty percent, putting the lives of guards, staff and inmates at risk”, said Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair Wallace Collins.

“Over the course of a year the Governor went out of her way to destroy this cost-saving and smart reform initiative. With Oklahoma having some of the most overcrowded prisons in the country, this is not just outrageous, it borders on being criminal,” said Collins.

JRI, which was enacted in 2012, is a program that was designed to decrease the number of non-violent offenders in prison. Money saved from not incarcerating these people would have been used to create public-safety programs, such as law enforcement grants. However, reports from The Oklahoman and Oklahoma Watch have shown that Fallin refused to support the working group in charge of JRI, and decided to not pursue a federal grant that was crucial to the program.

Continued Collins, “While Fallin was sabotaging JRI, reporters asked the Governor for records relating to the program. Her response was predictable: she claimed the non-existent legal power of ‘executive privilege,’ just like she did with the health care records. She really just does not want anyone to see anything she does, does she?

Meanwhile, while this was happening, her office was meeting with private prison contractors, and after the bi-partisan officials heading the JRI working group, former House Republican Speaker Kris Steele and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, resigned in disgust over Fallin’s clear disregard for JRI, multiple private prisons gave her campaign thousands of dollars. She is using DC politics and rewarding her donors.

Concluded Collins, “It’s obvious from all this that she cared more about protecting private prison contracts than in implementing good policy beneficial to Oklahomans and our state’s economy. It’s incredible that she actually refused to enforce a law she signed. No wonder she withheld these documents until well after JRI was trashed. This is why we need a change in the Governor’s Office — someone who won’t place politics over people.”

In its final installment of how Fallin has made a mess of Oklahoma’s Open Records Act, the Oklahoma Democratic Party will look at how Fallin’s administration refuses to show records relating to nursing homes and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.