Oklahoma Survivors’ Act Overcomes Veto

Oklahoma Survivors’ Act marks a victory for domestic abuse survivors. Learn how The Sentencing Project and partners fought to pass this critical reform.

Related to: Sentencing Reform, Incarceration

Photo: Colleen McCarty of Oklahoma Appleseed, Oklahoma State Rep. Jon Echols, and Alexandra Bailey of The Sentencing Project

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 1835, the Oklahoma Survivors’ Act, into law, marking a victory for domestic abuse survivors across the state. Learn how The Sentencing Project worked with state partners and justice impacted survivors to advocate for this critical reform.

Senate Bill 1470, which would establish the Oklahoma Survivors’ Act, was vetoed in April by Governor Stitt after passing both chambers with a nearly unanimous vote. This legislation allows those for whom domestic violence was a significant contributing factor to their offense to be resentenced, and allows those currently on trial to be moved to a new sentencing matrix that caps all penalties at 30 years. Despite the overwhelming support from both the public and the legislature, the Governor saw fit to try and end the hope of incarcerated survivors.

But we did not give up.

We knew from our first attempt at passing this legislation in 2023 that we had to be ready for anything, so we had a backup bill, Senate Bill 1835. After the veto, our coalition ramped up public pressure on the Governor, prosecutors, and the legislature to rethink opposition to this legislation. It worked! We quickly passed SB 1835 out of committee, had a nearly unanimous floor vote (AGAIN), and were signed into law on May 21, 2024.

Our sponsors, Representative Echols and Senator Treat, told us that no bill of this nature has ever passed without prosecutorial approval. And until this win, no law in Oklahoma allowed for resentencing for violent offenses. Our campaign used the people’s power, social media ads, press, art installations, Op-Eds from incarcerated survivors, and protests to ensure that survivors of domestic violence got the justice they have been praying for. National Conservative partners came to our aid, and we fought alongside our partners with everything we had.

Throughout this campaign, The Sentencing Project’s social media ads received over 9 million impressions, educating the public on the immediate need for this legislation, and attacking misinformation designed to derail our efforts. The incarcerated survivors of Oklahoma who shared their stories, once voiceless, now headline the evening news.

Oklahoma ranks number one in the country for domestic violence, and has one of the highest rates of women killed by men. Over 65% of women incarcerated in Oklahoma have experienced either physical or sexual abuse.

Our cause is common sense, and more importantly, is moral and just. Survivors should not have to wait another day for justice.

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