Governor Mary Fallin released the following statement today regarding justice reform concepts outlined by President Barack Obama after his visit to a federal penitentiary in El Reno, Oklahoma:
“While we have our political differences, I appreciate President Obama taking the time to visit Oklahoma and I hope he enjoyed his stay. It is always an honor for Oklahoma to host the president of the United States.
“During his time here, the president focused many of his remarks on our criminal justice system. There is an emerging bipartisan consensus that our justice system must be ‘smart on crime’ as well as tough on crime. For individuals with mental health and addiction issues, for instance, we need to do a better job of offering treatment and supervision as alternatives to prolonged incarceration. The president and I have some common ground on this issue, as do some Republican presidential candidates as well as leading conservative activists like the Koch family.
“In Oklahoma, Republicans and Democrats have worked together on ‘smart on crime’ policies for non-violent offenders by passing alternatives to mandatory minimum sentencing; relying on drug, mental health and veterans courts as alternatives to criminal prosecution and incarceration; and pursuing reforms outlined in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. We will continue to work to improve our criminal justice system so that it offers the greatest possible protections to the law-abiding public and the greatest rehabilitation opportunities for those who have strayed.
“However, I was deeply disappointed that during his visit the president did not address the ongoing illegal immigration crisis or the failure of our federal justice system to stop or even contain it. In 2013 alone, the Obama administration released over 36,000 criminal illegal immigrants with over 88,000 convictions, including 193 homicide convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions and 303 kidnapping convictions. It is clear the federal government does not have an adequate system of detaining, deporting or even keeping track of illegal immigrants who enter their custody. While the vast majority of illegal immigrants do not represent a safety threat to American citizens, our chaotic and broken system does, as the recent and tragic murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco has reminded us.
“If President Obama wants to create a fair, just and effective criminal justice system, he must also commit to enforcing our immigration laws and protecting our communities.”