Crime Funding of Oklahoma Judiciary

While the other states are incorporating reforms to reduce over criminalization, Oklahoma seems to be moving in the opposite direction. Its judiciary, which is penalty funded, is putting offenders in financial peril as they battle hefty fines, pushing them back into a life of crime in many cases. The revenue generated by making offenders pay their way through the judicial and correctional system is divided by multiple agencies including the court system.

In the name of being hard on crime, offenders are expected to incur all the costs of the trial and possible incarceration along with the fine imposed for the criminal act. So, a person accused of speeding about 10 miles over the limit would be fined $10, but when judicial costs are added to this, the final amount payable comes to a hefty $190.

Those who are held in county jails are expected to pay per diem costs of incarceration which comes to $40 to $50 per day. So, as an accused awaits trial and is held in the local correctional facility because he has been denied bail, he could end up paying for 100 to 200 days which would be a massive $5000 to $10,000.

Undoubtedly the approach is flawed since the judiciary is funded by the revenues collected from people who cannot pay or will not pay after being released from prison. To exacerbate the issue, depending on the stigma attached to the crime offenders were charged with, it may be impossible for them to find employment. Although there are nonprofit groups that are helping such individuals, they are unable to reach all those who find themselves in this precarious situation.