October 31, 2014
State Rep. Bobby Cleveland is my neighbor. We see prison lights from where we live. No matter where you live in Oklahoma, your life is impacted by the large number of people that we incarcerate. Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, has visited the prisons and learned how they’re filled with the mentally ill, how programs and medical needs are underfunded, etc. He believes that we need to be smart on crime.
Some people need to spend the rest of their life in prison, but many people are sent to prison who instead should go into diversion programs such as drug courts. Spending $20,000 a year to keep someone in prison is a terrible loss to our economy. Inmates are tax consumers, not taxpayers.
I became a volunteer with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in 1990. I urge readers to seek information and support politicians who will vote for reform of the criminal justice system in Oklahoma. Children and families are impacted by the tremendous cost of incarceration, but the 50,000 children who have a parent incarcerated are especially affected. Many of them will end up in our prison system.
This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s going to take everyone working together to change things. Cleveland and others need your help.
Linda York, Lexington