Oklahoma Governor in the Parole Process Amendment, State Question 762 (2012)

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State Question 762
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Oklahoma Constitution
Referred by:Oklahoma State Legislature
Topic:State executive official measures
Status:Approveda
An Oklahoma Governor in the Parole Process Amendment, also known as State Question 762, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Oklahoma as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment where it was approved. The measure decreased the power that the Oklahoma Governor has in the parole process in the state for nonviolent crimes. According to reports, the proposal's author was House Speaker Kris Steele. The bill's formal title in 2012 state legislative session was Senate Joint Resolution 25.[1]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

The following are official election results

Oklahoma State Question 762
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 745,133 59.2%
No514,08040.8%

These results are from the Oklahoma State Elections Board.

Text of the measure

Ballot language

The following is ballot language that appeared before voters:[2]

This measure amends Section 10 of Article 6 of the Oklahoma Constitution. It changes current law, decreasing the power and authority of the Governor by removing the Governor from the parole process for persons convicted of certain offenses defined as nonviolent offenses. It enlarges the power and authority of the Pardon and Parole Board by authorizing that Board, in place of the Governor, to grant parole to persons convicted of certain offenses defined as nonviolent offenses.

The Legislature defines what offenses are nonviolent offenses and the Legislature may change that definition.

The measure authorizes the Pardon and Parole Board to recommend to the Governor, but not to itself grant, parole for persons convicted of certain offenses, specifically those offenses identified by law as crimes for which persons are required to serve not less than eighty-five percent of their sentence prior to being considered for parole and those designated by the Legislature as exceptions to nonviolent offenses. For those offenses for which persons are required to serve a minimum mandatory period of confinement prior to being eligible to be considered for parole, the Pardon and Parole Board may not recommend parole until that period of confinement has been served.

Shall the proposal be approved?

For the proposal - Yes

Against the proposal - No[3]

Support

  • The main campaign for the measure was Vote Yes SQ 762, powered by Citizens for a Safer Oklahoma.
  • The campaign that favored the measure, according to the official website, stated about the proposal: "Citizens for a Safer Oklahoma is a grassroots organization dedicated to creating an efficient pardon and parole system for Oklahoma prisons. This is possible if you vote YES on State Question 762."
  • Speaker of the State House Kris Steele stated about the measure, “Letting the governor focus on parole recommendations for violent crimes is a critical component of Oklahoma’s recent progress to build a stronger, more effective criminal justice system. Approving this measure will generate tens of millions of dollars in savings that can be reinvested in initiatives that truly reduce and prevent crime. A vote for SQ 762 is a vote for a safer Oklahoma.”[4]
  • Robert Lee Rainey, Chair, Citizens for a Safer Oklahoma argued,“Allowing the governor to focus on violent offenders seeking parole is good government and makes Oklahoma safer. Voting Yes on SQ 762 saves money and promotes public safety. Voting yes on SQ 762 is a win for Oklahoma.”[4]

Opposition

  • State Representative Jason Murphey stated about the proposal's impacts: “When you take the governor out of process like this the people of Oklahoma have no one to hold accountable, the members of the pardon and parole board are unelected and thus when they make a bad decision as I think they have in the past the people can’t hold them to account."
  • Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said the governor served as needed oversight in the parole process for nonviolent crimes, stating, "It’s my understanding [the pardon and parole board] don’t even have a true risk assessment tool that they are able to use to consider a prisoner at this time, so if they aren’t doing it right now, they’re certainly not going to do it with someone out of the process, the governor out of the process."[5]

Path to the ballot

The Oklahoma State Legislature can approve a proposed amendment by a majority vote. However, if the state legislature wants the proposed amendment to go on a special election ballot, it has to approve the amendment by a 2/3rds vote.

The state House of Representatives passed the proposal on February 14, 2012 with a vote of 81-7. The measure had been previously passed by the Oklahoma State Senate during 2011 state legislative session. The House vote was the final legislative passage needed for the amendment.[1]

See also

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References