OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Four criminal justice measures designed to slow the growth of Oklahoma's prison population were signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday, but she and top lawmakers said more needs to be done to change Oklahoma's distinction as among the leading states in some categories of incarceration.
"All of us have the goal of preserving public safety and making sure their communities are safe," Fallin said. But policy makers must also justify the cost of the state's criminal justice system, especially when faced with a $1.3 billion hole in next year's budget largely due to declining energy prices.
"We all want to be tough on crime, but we also want to be smart on crime," the governor said.
The state leads the nation in its incarceration rate for women and ranks second nationally in its male incarceration rate, according to Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, House author of the four measures. Almost 28,000 state inmates are housed in state or privately operated prisons, 112 percent of the system's capacity.