ADVOCACY ALERT: Don’t let lawmakers undo voter-approved reforms (HB 3694)

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill that would undo much of the progress our state has made in reforming its criminal justice system. We need your voice to help defeat House Bill 3694 that directly rolls back voter-approved reforms from 2016’s State Question 780. 

In 2016, voters overwhelmingly approved SQ 780 that raised the felony threshold for larceny to $1,000, which put Oklahoma in line with the rest of the nation. HB 3694 will undo that change, and as a result would: 

  • Increase the state’s prison population.
  • Reduce the amount of funding available for county-level treatments for mental health and substance use disorders. 
  • Not make a difference with the state’s larceny rate.

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Please call and email your Representative and Senator (and any other Representative or Senator that you may know) to urge them to uphold the will of Oklahoma voters to fund treatment and not prisons. Urge them to vote NO on HB 3694.

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Key points when talking with lawmakers:

  • Because the current larceny threshold was set through SQ 780, the money saved by lowering the state’s prison population is to be invested in county-level treatments for mental health and substance use disorders (SQ 781). If we undo this change, then Oklahoma will have significantly less money to invest in county-level treatments to address many underlying issues.
  • Oklahoma last year finally allocated funds ($12.5 million) into the County Community Safety Investment Fund for local treatment options per SQ 781. Because of seven years of foot-dragging by lawmakers, this program is only now able to start making an impact.
  • Oklahoma’s larceny threshold of $1,000 is currently in line with most of other states. Lowering the threshold to $500 would mean we were only one of four states with such a low threshold. Texas has the nation’s highest larceny threshold at $2,500.
  • Increasing the larceny threshold will increase our prison population with non-violent shoplifters, who make up the vast majority of shoplifting arrests in Oklahoma. 
  • Research has shown that lower larceny thresholds do not reduce crime. 
  • The only thing that this bill will do is put more people in prison, which we can’t afford. Our system needs to save its prison beds for violent offenders instead of filling them up with people committing non-violent property crimes like shoplifting.

Your voice makes a difference. The lawmakers you contact will take note when you reach out to them with professional, fact-based requests.