Oklahoma Prisons

Oklahoma City, OK – Oklahoma lawmakers keep punishing as prisons fill

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) With spending on state prisons approaching nearly a half-billion dollars each year, Oklahoma lawmakers are seeking ways to keep more nonviolent criminals out of the state's overcrowded prisons.

But while Republican leaders are seeking these sentencing changes on one hand, they also are continuing to endorse harsher penalties for drug crimes and other nonviolent offenses.

Last week, on the same day the Oklahoma Senate approved a plan to increase the use of electronic monitoring and community sentencing for low-risk offenders, it overwhelmingly approved a measure to allow life in prison for a first offense of converting marijuana into hashish.

Senate Democratic leader Sen. Andrew Rice says the irony is "Shakespearean."