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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

For Immediate Release: March 8, 2010

Sen. Harry Coates
Sen. Harry Coates

  Senate Approves ‘Smart on Crime’ Measure 

Legislation to reduce recidivism and help more Oklahomans pursue better paying jobs has been approved by the full Senate. Senator Harry Coates, author of Senate Bill 2070, said the bill would simply enable individuals who have been convicted of a felony crime and have completed their sentence to later apply for a professional license as long as it is in a field unrelated to their crime.

“If a person commits a crime, they should be held fully accountable. But after they’ve served their time, we ought to encourage them to become productive members of society,” said Coates, R-Seminole. “It’s not enough to be tough on crime—we have to be smart on crime too, which means looking at ways to ensure those who have done their time can reenter society and become productive citizens. That’s what this bill is designed to do.”

Coates explained there are dozens of occupations in Oklahoma which require a license by the state, from architecture to occupational therapists, however under current law a convicted felon is barred from seeking employment in any of those areas regardless of the crime committed. Coates, Chairman of the Senate Business and Labor Committee, explained SB 2070 would broaden opportunities for those Oklahomans who want to turn their lives around.

“According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, 8.2 percent of Oklahomans have been convicted of a felony. That’s more than a quarter of a million people in our state who have been banned for life from certain careers and professions,” Coates said. “In many cases, this prevents them from being able to provide a good living for themselves and their families and becoming productive members of society. Changing that will benefit our entire state.”

Coates said the legislation, which passed unanimously in the Senate, was requested by The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM) based in Oklahoma City, an organization that helps guide individuals into more productive roles in society, including former inmates.

SB 2070 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

For more information contact:
Sen. Coates: 405-521-5547

 

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