The Criminal Justice Reentry, Supervision, Treatment and Opportunity Reform Task Force — calling it RESTORE from here on out — is the governor-created cabal tasked with creating ideas that might reduce Oklahoma’s prison population. Its first meeting was last Thursday. The Oklahoman reported Friday the group is seeking the public’s input, there’s even a helpful email address, but that the meetings will not be open to the public.
“We need to be able to talk openly in here,” said Chip Keating, secretary of public safety told The Oklahoman. “There’s a lot of different voices in different areas that people are passionate about. I think some of them will feel more comfortable doing that and then sharing our results with the public.”
You want to talk privately because someone may be too passionate. About what? Criminal justice reform or criminal prosecution? What could possibly be revealed that would have any other drawback than possibly making the speaker look bad. Comfort? You say it’s more “comfortable” to talk in private. Sure it is, but you’re not planning a surprise birthday party, you’re planning policy that will affect the entire state for decades to come. You’re talking about meeting secretly to discuss agencies that require millions of dollars to run.
Gov. Kevin Stitt ran on a campaign of making state agencies and boards accountable to Oklahomans. Is this task force accountable to all Oklahomans? Asking for input is one thing — it’s firstname.lastname@example.org, by the way — but being honest with what you’re going to do with that input is just as important. We have enough people closed off by walls in this state.