In December 2016, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Criminal Justice Task Force announced its recommendations for addressing the multitude of issues in our criminal justice system that not only impact the jail population but also the efficiency and effectiveness of our system. These recommendations came after a full year of working with the members of the task force and the Vera Institute of Justice to comprehensively examine that system.
The people who engaged on this issue hail from many different backgrounds: law enforcement, mental health advocates, business leaders, public defenders and more. At first glance, these groups may not seem like they have a lot of common ground on this issue. But every member of the group recognizes that finding a holistic solution is more important than personal interests in the matter.
Vera President Nicholas Turner recently commended our community-wide approach and said it “should be a national model.” While this issue and our approach is a new undertaking, the spirit in which we face it exemplifies the most important aspect of our community. Throughout Oklahoma City’s history, our ability to cooperate has given us the strongest solutions with exponential success.
The road to criminal justice reform in Oklahoma County may seem daunting, but I am confident that our ability to collaborate will see us through to a positive solution, just as it always has. To everyone who has participated in this process with the goal of the greatest good on the issue of criminal justice reform, thank you. Together, our work will result in a smarter, safer and more efficient Oklahoma County – for everyone.