By: Lori Fullbright

TULSA COUNTY, Oklahoma – A newly proposed law would make it harder for people convicted of domestic violence to get released early from prison.

Most people eligible for early release committed non-violent crimes and up until now, domestic strangulation and domestic assault with a weapon, have been considered non-violent.

House Bill 1054 would change that.

With Oklahoma’s prison overcrowding, there’s a big push to get people released early if they’ve been convicted of non-violent crimes. But when most people hear non-violent, they think of theft or maybe writing bad checks; they don’t think of someone being assaulted with a weapon or strangled.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police recently created a video that highlights the critical need for agencies to take domestic violence seriously and Tulsa police recently started a big push to educate people about the specific dangers of domestic strangulation. They say if a partner is willing to strangle you, they are seven times more likely to kill you.

All this is why the Tulsa County District attorney’s office says it likes House bill 1054.

It would add crimes like domestic strangulation and domestic assault with a weapon to the state’s list of violent crimes, which means people convicted of those crimes would not be eligible for parole or early release.

Tulsa County Assistant DA Erik Grayless says, “If you’re consistently abusing women or men, men can be victims of domestic violence, then you deserve to serve that sentence that a judge or jury gave you.”

He says some people deserve to be behind bars for the damage they’ve done.

“Reform isn’t always about letting people out early. Sometimes, and we hear stories, sometimes, people need that time to sit down and get over their criminal thinking,” said Grayless.

This bill is in the very beginning stages and whether it passes will likely come down to money and how many people would fall into this domestic violence category because it costs more than $21,000 a year to keep someone in prison.

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