Help end disparities in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system

Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate in the nation. This crisis impacts some communities more than others.

Contact your state representative today and ask them to support HB 1855 (by Rep. Brian Hill). This bill would require community impact statements for criminal justice legislation. A community impact statement reveals a proposed bill’s impact on underserved communities and makes sure legislation wouldn’t unfairly impact marginalized populations. Find your state representative here.

Communities of color are disproportionately affected by incarceration. One in every 15 adult Black men in Oklahoma is in prison, giving us the highest rate of Black incarceration in the country. Indigenous Oklahomans and Oklahomans of Hispanic descent are also overrepresented in the system. Requiring racial impact statements on criminal justice legislation will allow lawmakers to make better-informed decisions and avoid deepening racial and ethnic disparities. To learn more about this issue, visit our fact sheet.

Rural Oklahomans are also harmed by our criminal justice system. The 10 Oklahoma counties with the highest fatal drug-overdose rates and the 10 counties with the highest rates of people reporting frequent mental distress are all designated rural by the Census. HB 1855 will ensure that we can tackle these problems like the health care issues they are, rather than sending more people to jail instead of treatment.

Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis should not unjustly burden communities which still carry the wounds of discrimination and racial violence. Call or email your state representative and ask them to support HB 1855 and help prevent some of those harms in the future.

Published by Sabine Brown

Sabine Brown joined the Oklahoma Policy Institute as Housing Senior Policy Analyst in January 2022. She previously worked at OK Policy from January 2018 until September 2020 as the Outreach and Legislative Director, and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa. Before joining OK Policy she served as the Oklahoma Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Sabine also earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Health Science from the University of Oklahoma and was a physician assistant prior to discovering advocacy work. She grew up in Germany but has called Oklahoma home since 1998.