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Speaker's Criminal Sentencing Bill Clears Panel (Feb 23, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A bill designed to ease Oklahoma's exploding inmate population by diverting low-level criminals from prison is heading to the full House after passing out of committee.

The House Public Safety Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved Speaker Kris Steele's proposal to reduce overcrowding in the state's prisons.

The measure would divert nonviolent, low-level offenders like drug users and hot check writers from prison and into programs like community sentencing or electronic monitoring. The bill also would remove the governor from the parole process by allowing any parole recommendation not signed within 30 days to be automatically granted. Exceptions include those inmates convicted of violent or some sexual crimes.

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