Earlier this week, OBA reached out to Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to express its support for H.R. 2152, also known as the Citizen’s Right to Know Act, sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX). The legislation was recently reported out of Judiciary Committee as Do Pass.
OBA President Raymond Merrill wrote the following in each letter to the members of the delegation:
“This long overdue legislation would allow, for the first time, public scrutiny of taxpayer-funded release programs. The bill would require publicly funded pretrial release agencies who receive federal funds to report on who participates in their programs, including information regarding: criminal history, including previously filed charges; previous failures to appear for court proceedings; and previous and current non-compliance infractions.
“Under current law, federally funded pretrial release programs are not required to report any information relating to the defendants released through their program. Basic information on defendants is neither collected nor reported in any fashion as the DOJ only collects data from pretrial release agencies related to crime trends in the aggregate. Due to this, there is no mechanism in place to determine if pretrial release agencies are effective in ensuring that defendants adhere to their pretrial release requirements or whether these defendants actually show up for court.
“If Congress continues to use taxpayers’ money to fund pretrial release programs, then surely Congress must also be able to determine the effectiveness of said programs. Taxpayers deserve to know if their resources are being spent wisely and in a fashion that enhances, or at lease holds harmless, their community’s safety.
“I believe that the passage of H.R. 2152 is essential to provide greater transparency for pretrial programs while also providing greater accountability over taxpayer funds. Most importantly, the passage of H.R. 2152 is vital to ensuring the safety of our Oklahoma communities.”
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is listed as a cosponsor for this legislation. OBA has asked Reps. Cole, Lucas, Mullin and Russell to consider becoming cosponsors as well.