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Fallin: Deal reached on sentencing reform

OKLAHOMA CITY  Gov. Mary Fallin says she's reached a deal with legislative leaders and state prosecutors on a package of bills designed to curb Oklahoma's growing prison population.

Fallin joined district attorneys and lawmakers Monday to announce support of several bills intended to change criminal sentencing code. The bills mostly target nonviolent property and drug crimes and make it easier for inmates to be released on parole.

Fallin says the bills still are being drafted and that no official projections have been calculated on savings or bed space.

But Kris Steele, chairman of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, behind two ballot measures voters approved easing penalties for certain crimes, says it's too early to endorse the bills because its unclear what their effect would be.

"These reforms are targeted at nonviolent offenders, many of whom suffer from addiction and mental health issues," Fallin said in a news release. "The agreement reached is a huge first step forward, moving our state much closer to our goal of reducing the incarceration crisis while keeping our communities safe. Though it has been a difficult process of real compromise, I am extremely proud of our legislators, prosecutors, and leaders of our business community, all of whom have taken bold action to reduce incarceration.

"We need to stop warehousing moms and dads, sons and daughters in prison for long sentences compared to other states."

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