Emergency Powers Legislation. In 1984, Senate Bill 445 was enacted as the
Oklahoma prison overcrowding emergency powers act. The "cap" legislation, as it
is called, permits awarding 60 days of emergency time credit to qualified
offenders when the prison population exceeds 95 percent of capacity. After its
first use, the emergency powers act may be invoked every 60 days while population
exceeds the capacity limit. Oklahoma's law is similar to legislation passed in
Michigan according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. As a direct result of
their emergency powers act, the Michigan prison population decreased by six
percent in 1983. Three other states with over 10,000 inmates, Florida, Texas and
North Carolina, had declining populations in 1983 and all had early release
Oklahoma's "cap" legislation was first invoked in May 1984, then again in
July and September. The impact of those 487 emergency releases, combined with
the effects of other Departmental programs, has been to nearly halt the state's
previously rapid prison population growth. This means that, for the first time
since 1979, Oklahoman's may have hope that the state's prison population growth
has become manageable and that the Corrections budget will reflect this
House Arrest Programs. Another bill considered by the 1984 legislature is
significant because it was not passed. Passage of the mandatory community
supervision legislation was thwarted by the Governor's threatened veto. Instead
it was suggested that the same control could be gained through expansion of the
existing House Arrest Program. Based on direction from the Governor, President
Pro Tempore of the Senate and Speaker of the House, and with budgetary support,
the Department has moved forward with development and implementation of this
. House Arrest provides an effective means of re-integrating offenders into
the community in a productive role while ensuring close supervision and control.
When fully implemented, it will also provide the Department a means of maintaining the control over growth of the incarcerated population that has been
established by emergency release and other programs and legislative action.
A similar program called Community Control has been developed in Florida.
"The 'community controlees' as they are called, are confined to their homes
under 'house arrest' except during hours of employment or other activities
approved by the Community Control Officer."
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