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The Government Flag
Thursday, April 2, 1998

Incarceration rate rising while crime rate unchanged

Last modified at 9:01 a.m. on Thursday, April 2, 1998

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Lawmakers are turning to analysts and statisticians to help decide whether a truth-in-sentencing bill that would sharply increase corrections costs and incarcerations would bring a meaningful drop in crime.

Figures presented Wednesday to a truth-in-sentencing task force show Oklahoma's incarceration rate has more than quadrupled since 1974, but the state's crime rate has continued to rise.

Prison "seems to have a negative impact on an offender's ability to cease committing crime," said Mike Connelly, an analyst with the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center.

And for every offender who is jailed, Connelly said, another remains on the street to commit more crime.

His conclusions were disputed by Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy, who said imprisoning offenders who are likely to commit more crimes is the right thing to do.

"It indicates that we're sending the right people," Macy said.

An assistant district attorney in Macy's office, Richard Wintory, said the issue is not how many offenders are sent to prison but how long they remain behind bars.

"The key factor here is length of stay. That's what results in the incapacitation effect," he said.

The Legislature passed a truth-in-sentencing bill last year, but it has been assailed as soft on crime by prosecutors, sheriffs and victims' groups who have demanded tougher legislation that will send more offenders to jail for longer sentences.

But lawmakers have expressed doubt whether the state can afford many of the changes proposed in a House-passed truth-in-sentencing reform package, House Bill 2927 by House Speaker Loyd Benson, D-Frederick. The measure is pending in the Senate.

Of major concern to task force members is the so-called incapacitation effect -- the impact that imprisoning an offender actually has on crime.

"In Oklahoma, is there some reason to believe that if we put people in jail, that it will have an impact on crime?" said Bill Chown, a Corrections Department analyst.

"Have we done enough?" said Sen. Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, co-leader of the task force.

Connelly said statistics indicate offenders sentenced to prison are more likely to commit another crime when they are released than offenders who receive other punishment.

Members of the House and Senate reviewed incarceration statistics a day after the Corrections Department revealed that the pending truth-in-sentencing proposal will increase corrections costs by nearly $961 million in the next 10 years. The measure would also make Oklahoma the nation's top incarcerator in just three years.

Statistics prepared for the Corrections Department and outlined for the task force show that while the number of arrests has changed little since 1980, Oklahoma's prison incarceration rate has more than doubled.

"The number of arrests per year has remained constant," Chown said. In 1980, Oklahoma recorded more than 155,000 arrests, he said. Arrests totaled more than 153,000 in 1996.

But Oklahoma's prison population jumped from about 4,600 in 1980 to 19,586 in 1996, according to the statistics.

In addition, Oklahoma's crime rate rose from 4,050 per 100,000 residents in 1974 to more than 5,600 per 100,000 residents in 1996.

During the same period, the incarceration rate rose from 121 per 100,000 residents to 591 per 100,000 residents.

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ASSASSIN of JFK, Patton, many other Whites

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millions dead in the Middle East

tens of millions of dead Christians

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serial killer of 13 Christians

the REAL terrorists--not a single one is an Arab

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1000 fold the child of perdition


Modified Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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