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March 11, 2021
Contact: Chris Wilson
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Poll shows Oklahomans strongly support SQ 780, criminal justice reform, and funding for treatment and other crime prevention programs
OKLAHOMA CITY — A majority of Oklahomans support common sense criminal justice reform, according to a recent poll conducted by WPA Intelligence in February 2021. Sixty-nine percent of Oklahomans say they support criminal justice reform, and 66% believe it is important to reduce the number of people in prisons or jail.
“Oklahomans’ support for criminal justice reform is clear and consistent across party lines,” said Chris Wilson, president of WPA Intelligence. “The data show a majority of Oklahomans support reforms that would safely reduce the jail and prison population, save taxpayer dollars, and provide people who have committed nonviolent offenses with the resources and treatment they need to safely reenter their communities.”
Oklahoma has one of the highest imprisonment rates in the country, and for three decades, incarcerated more women per capita in the nation. “Sixty-five percent of respondents are more likely to vote for candidates who support criminal justice reform, and this support is consistent across party lines,” said Wilson. “Candidates put their electoral futures at risk if they do not support criminal justice reform.”
Oklahomans continue to overwhelmingly support SQ 780, approved by voters in 2016, which reclassified simple drug possession and low-level property crimes as misdemeanors. In the recent survey, over three-quarters (76%) of respondents said they support SQ 780, and 65% of Oklahomans voiced support for using additional funding to reduce crime by investing in drug or mental health treatment, education, and victim services.
In addition, of those surveyed, 78% said they support the Violence Prevention Innovation Fund (HB 2879), a bill introduced during the 2021 legislative session. The Fund would reinvest savings from sentence enhancement reform into services for survivors of violence and crime prevention programs.
“This polling further proves what we already know — that Oklahomans want smart justice reform that prioritizes treatment over longer prison sentences,” said Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. “Oklahomans want action on criminal justice reform, and expect elected leaders to make it a priority. Voters continue to strongly support SQ 780 and lawmakers should not pass legislation that would undo that impactful reform. Voters know we must address our state’s incarceration crisis and overwhelmingly support prioritizing reentry services or treatment to help people safely return to their communities and be productive citizens.”
The poll was conducted by WPA Intelligence, an Oklahoma-based firm with polling experience in political races across the nation, between February 22-25, 2021.
The full survey results memo can be found here.