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Expert Says Programs Can Reduce Okla. Crime Rate (Sep 14, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A criminal justice expert is urging Oklahoma lawmakers to invest in programs with successful track records as a way of reducing criminals' recidivism, rather than just increasing punishments.

The University of Cincinnati's School of Criminal Justice director, Edward Latessa, said Wednesday many states employ ineffective programs that he described as "correctional quackery."

Latessa says the most effective programs are those that target high-risk offenders with a high chance of re-offending. He says targeting low-risk offenders can actually increase their recidivism rates by exposing them to more hardened criminals.

Oklahoma has one of the nation's highest incarceration rates, and lawmakers are looking at ways to ease prison overcrowding without jeopardizing public safety.

House Speaker Kris Steele says changing the state's criminal justice system will be a top priority next year.


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