Say yes on 805
Susan Esco
July 16, 2020

Working in prison ministry, I’ve seen redemption in action. That’s why I want to call Oklahomans to action to support an important criminal justice reform that will give our neighbors a second chance to return to their families, work hard and restart their lives.

After months of hard work, Yes on 805 has collected more than 260,000 signatures needed to put State Question 805 on the ballot. These signatures have been submitted to the secretary of state’s office.

We can’t forget, however, that this success was preceded by nearly a decade of work and study on the part of communities, advocates and the Legislature.

On a daily basis, mothers and fathers, families and children are harmed by Oklahoma’s ongoing incarceration crisis. For far too long, our default response for any infraction has been prison time. We are the No. 2 incarcerator in the world, locking our citizens up at higher rates and for longer than most other states: Oklahomans spend 70% longer in prison for property crimes and 79% longer for drug crimes than people in other states.

These harsh, excessive sentences are often driven by the use of sentence penalties, which can extend a person’s sentence by years or even life if they have a previous conviction.

Excessive sentences don’t help our community. Research has shown longer sentences don’t increase public safety or reduce the likelihood that someone will reoffend.

My work has shown me that people have the capacity to heal and improve. But they need support and resources to do so – support they cannot access if they’re separated from their families and locked away in a prison cell.

For that reason, I’m excited to see this important initiative move in front of Oklahoma voters, who have proven they can make positive change on criminal justice reform and believe in the power of forgiveness, hard work and redemption.

Criminal justice reform has widespread, bipartisan support in our state.

I urge Oklahoma voters to keep up the good work, get involved in the Yes on 805 campaign and vote “yes” on SQ 805 if the initiative is placed on the ballot later this year. In supporting this campaign, you create a second chance for thousands of your neighbors and community members. You create a stronger, happier, more successful Oklahoma.

Susan Esco is co-founder of Living Hope Women’s Ministry, a transitional ministry for women coming out of prison.

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