What Can YOU Do to Curb Violent Crime in Tulsa County?
Tough laws and more police are not enough. A skilled and experienced Prosecutor must finish the job in court to take dangerous criminals off our streets and keep neighborhoods safe.
Public Safety is Priority 1. The District Attorney’s most important job is to protect citizens from violent crime. Our most vulnerable citizens - children, the elderly and physically or mentally challenged depend on it. The District Attorney often is the last hope for crime victims to receive justice.
But what about Alternatives to Prison? Isn’t it much more cost effective to put people on probation or in drug court than send them to prison?
YES and NO. As District Attorney I support alternative courts and probation, where it is appropriate. But safety of our community is important. Every year, my office puts thousands of first offenders and people charged with non-violent offenses on probation and in drug court, veteran’s court, mental health court, Women in Recovery and DUI Court. We put more people on alternative sentences than any county in Oklahoma.
But alternative courts still cost money – for staff, for prosecutors, public defenders, treatment providers, for inpatient substance abuse treatment, for ankle monitoring. The highly successful Women in Recovery program that is funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation spends about $20,000 per year per woman in the program. Currently there are 160 women in the program. I am grateful that the Foundation has funded this pilot project. There are 1,116 other non-violent offenders currently in our Drug Court, DUI Court, Mental Health Court, and Veterans Court that are not funded by the Foundation. In addition, there are 500 non-violent offenders on Department of Corrections Community Sentences, and thousands of other non-violent offenders on DA Supervision, or unsupervised probation.
The truth is, many offenders who are imprisoned are sent to halfway houses that cost less than the Foundation spends on Women in Recovery. Does that mean we shouldn’t seek alternatives to prison? Of course not. But the money argument is a red herring. The fact is, it costs money for mental health services and rehab facilities and yes, schools. Unfortunately, our state has done a poor job in funding all these important services. Sadly, we often see abused and neglected children and if adequate services are not provided we see the same children later as juvenile delinquents and again as adult offenders. It is tragic. Even more tragic, by the time we see them as adults, they are committing violent crimes, and we must protect the community so that no further victims are hurt. There is a cost to the community in terms of victims who suffer physical and emotional trauma as the result of violent crime. Families and loved ones also suffer trauma.
So, the issue is not only about money. Where offenders can and are willing to receive treatment and can be restored, we always want to steer them to make that choice. You may be surprised to know that some offenders refuse to go into alternative courts. Rehabilitation is hard work. Some don’t want to put in that work. Ultimately, community safety will always be my first priority.
Tulsa County citizens put their trust in me and elected me to serve as DA beginning in January 2015. I promised to work hard every day to put violent criminals behind bars and serve with honesty and integrity.
My record proves I have kept that promise and I now ask you to vote for my re-election and allow me to complete the work I have begun.
Less than four months after I was elected I faced one of the most important decisions in my career. I filed second-degree manslaughter charges against a reserve Tulsa County Deputy who shot a man while he was being held on the ground by two other officers. A jury later convicted Robert Bates. The charges led to a grand jury and other investigations that eventually brought down Sheriff Stanley Glanz, who had served for decades.
I also filed charges against Tulsa Police Officer Shannon Kepler, in the shooting death of his daughter’s boyfriend. A jury convicted him.
And I filed manslaughter charges against Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby, who shot an unarmed man during a traffic stop. A jury acquitted Shelby, but jurors reported they were upset by Shelby’s actions and recommend she never serve as a patrol officer again. I stand by my decision to file that charge. It was a case that this community needed to have decided by a jury.
Every single day, the DA makes decisions that are of vital importance to our community. I make those decisions based on the law and the facts and the evidence before me. I will not be swayed by politics or popularity. I will always focus on Finding Truth and Seeking Justice.
There is still much to be done to deliver justice in our community. It is an honor and privilege to serve as District Attorney. I respectfully ask for your vote in the election.