As the legislative bill filing deadline concluded for the Second Session of the 56th Legislature, various bills seek to impact the criminal justice system in Oklahoma. Among those is House Bill 3694 by Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Oklahoma City), which would create the State and Municipal Bail Bond Procedure Act for Nonviolent Criminal Offenses. OBA has expressed its opposition of the bill due to concern for potentially severe unintended consequences.
“House Bill 3694 seeks to create the State and Municipal Bail Bond Procedure Act for Nonviolent Criminal Offenses, which would significantly change the evaluation and release process of defendants.
Some of the proposed changes include allowing arresting officers to release defendants on Personal Recognizance (PR) bonds in the field by simply writing a ticket with a promise to appear if the charge is a non-violent felony. The bill also sets bail amounts in statute, creates a Bail Bond Commissioner to be appointed by the Supreme Court and who would have the power to create a statewide bail bond schedule for defendants not eligible for release on PR bonds, and includes various other changes that essentially remove the authority and decision making from our local judges.
These extreme changes threaten our communities and overall public safety. Under this legislation, judges would be removed from making professional risk and situation assessments that play a vital role in keeping our communities safe. This bill will lead to higher levels of repeat offenders as well as skyrocketing rates for failure to appear.
While the OBA understands the need for incremental changes to existing judicial processes to create a more efficient system with cost savings to the taxpayers, this bill imparts too little clarity on what constitutes a ‘non-violent’ crime and downplays the potential for violent offenders to be released by removing judges’ authority. As the legislative session moves forward, it is our hope that state legislators will consider the impact these changes may create and the risks to our communities associated with implementing these changes as they consider this legislation.”
– Raymond Merrill, President of the Oklahoma Bondsman Association