Rep. Scott Biggs (R-Chickasha) took heat during the 2017 legislative session for stalling bills aimed at decreasing Oklahoma’s prison population and limiting the number of criminal offenses that qualify as felonies.
Biggs and Oklahoma’s district attorneys have criticized criminal justice reformers as hasty and reckless in their push to recategorize crimes, and those same reformers have criticized Biggs and the DAs for blocking change to a broken system.
Biggs, a former prosecutor himself, is scheduled to conduct an interim study at a yet-to-be-announced date for the purpose of discussing criminal justice reform and, specifically, whether various crimes should be considered violent or non-violent.
Complication to this part of Oklahoma’s crime-classification statutes was a major sticking point for Biggs last session, particularly as it related to proposed changes of parole time frames and other incarceration rules.
In an attempt to glean perception of criminal severity, Biggs sent a large Microsoft Excel file to 150 people and asked them to label 682 felony offenses as either “violent,” “danger to the public” or “non-violent.”
There is no incorrect answer. Simply choose the option you feel best describes the crime.
For clarification, the “Danger to the Public” category is an option for crimes that may not be violent by definition, but are ones that should carry greater protection from the law. My personal example of this is the prohibition of sex offender driving an ice cream truck. While this is not a violent crime, it is one that is in place to protect children from predators and in my opinion, should be a category that we should consider of the utmost importance.
While on one hand the sheer number of felony offenses codified in law displays why reforming Oklahoma’s criminal justice system requires thorough work, sending such an enormous survey to only 150 hand-chosen people means the results will be far from scientific.
To that end, we are posting the survey here on NonDoc in this editorial for any member of the public to examine, download, complete and submit to Biggs.
The representative sent his survey (available below) to our publication, and although we do not believe it appropriate for our journalists to complete, we would like to see the public have access to it.
Deadline for submission to Biggs’ office is Sept. 21.
Instructions for participation
We ask that those who download Biggs’ survey take it seriously and submit it respectfully. Below are Biggs’ instructions for submission, and it appears he would appreciate those completing it to provide their names.
Instructions for returning the survey:
- Electronically, via email to Scott.Biggs@okhouse.gov or Ashley.Stuart@okhouse.gov
- By mail, please see the below address: Representative Scott Biggs 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd #244 Oklahoma City, OK 73105 **Please ensure there is a return address so we know who is returning the completed survey.
- By hand, if you drop it off at the office please call ahead (557-7405) to ensure that someone is in the office, that way we know who is returning a completed survey
- If you are in the OKC area, we can pick it up from you! Please call Ashley at 557-7405 to arrange for a pick-up time.
Thank you in advance for completing the survey and helping us to keep track of who has returned it. Your survey responses will be kept confidential.
Even though this survey is about as long as the Oklahoma Gazette’s annual and interminable Best of OKC, we hope the public takes this opportunity seriously and dives into the state’s long list of felonious crimes.
Representative democracy works best when lawmakers allow public input. Now it’s up to the public to participate.