State Question 805 is a ballot initiative to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to prohibit sentence enhancements for felony offenders. It impacts hundreds of serious crimes, and would mandate sentences for offenders already in prison be reduced.

The proponents of SQ805 send out misleading messages, including suggesting prosecutors have endorsed SQ805 when they know the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association voted to oppose it. They also provide “stories” of offenders using first names only and limited facts about the cases to sway public opinion.

For example, “Yes on SQ805” refers to “Barry, age 52 sentenced to 20 years for stealing a lawnmower from a Tractor Supply.” There is a lot more to the story.

“Barry” is a career criminal with an alias and nine prior convictions in three different jurisdictions, spanning many years. “Barry” was given every chance at rehabilitation, including a referral to Drug Court in four of those cases in an effort to provide him with services and divert him from prison.

“Barry” failed Drug Court in 2013, and was released from DOC and placed on an ankle monitor. While still on the monitor, he was arrested on an Assault and Battery charge and had begun committing crimes again.

Proponents of SQ 805 talk about second chances, however this was “Barry’s” ninth chance. “Barry’s” not alone. In reality, the average number of felony convictions for offenders in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is 3.5.

“Barry’s” most recent crime involved stealing a “lawnmower” from Tractor Supply. The “lawnmower” is actually a Cub Cadet electric riding mower valued at more than $1,500.

He also was committing crimes of Possession of Controlled Dangerous Substance, Driving a Motor Vehicle while Under the Influence of Alcohol and Transporting Open Container. While in Drug Court he committed another felony theft

During jury trial deliberations, jurors often send questions to the judge when trying to determine what sentence to recommend. They will ask, “How much time will an offender actually serve if we give them “X” number of years to do?” Under the law, we are not allowed to answer that question.

In the current system there is no transparency in sentencing. In reality, 20 years does not mean 20 years. An offender is eligible for parole after serving only 25% of their sentence and may be eligible for release on ankle monitor even sooner that that.

Citizens of Muskogee County are tired of career criminals like “Barry.” When the system is working harder to keep you out of prison than you are, there is clearly a problem.

Local businesses work hard to survive, give back to the community and keep our citizens employed. “Barry” has repeatedly stolen from local businesses, even when given multiple chances to do better.

We invested time, money and resources in helping “Barry” with little return on our investment.

Vote No on SQ 805.

Orvil Loge is the Muskogee County District Attorney.

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