Tulsa County Sheriff disputes law enforcement endorsement of State Question 805

TULSA, Okla. — When Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado saw a “Yes On 805” commercial that said it was endorsed by police and prosecutors, he wanted to set the record straight about what he says is a state question no one in the law enforcement community supports.

State Question 805, if passed by Oklahomans on November 3rd, would amend the Oklahoma State Constitution to prohibit a judge from considering a defendant’s previous non-violent felony crimes when sentencing them for the crime they were just recently convicted of.

“I know no one in law enforcement. I know of no criminal prosecutor, and I haven’t heard from any judge that they support 805,” Regalado told FOX23.

Regalado said 805 gives career criminals the ability to get out of jail sooner and re-offend again and again because there is no increase in punishment when someone continues to break the law.

“I like to simplify it like this when I’m talking to people about 805,” he said when beginning to explain why he thought 805 was the wrong approach.

“We’ve all either had children or have been a child. This is like when a child breaks a vase, and the parent says ‘you have to be more careful’, and then the child turns around and breaks another vase, and the parent says 'you have to be more careful”, and that same child turns around and breaks a third vase, and the parent just says ‘you have to be more careful’. There’s no new consequence for continued bad behavior, and the child knows they can just keep getting away with it because the parent is going to have the same reaction over and over again. 805 is the same way, but this time we’re talking about people committing crimes."

Regalado took issue with the pro-805 commercials focusing on drug offenses as being the primary focus of 805 because he said when you examine what classifies as a non-violent felony under the state question things like child pornography, theft, domestic violence, driving under the influence (DUI), and animal cruelty are just a few serious crimes that will not see any increase in punishment the more times someone does it.

Other Green Country county sheriffs gathered Thursday to talk about their concerns over the proposal.

Proponents told FOX23 last week if 805 passes, a judge would have to examine the current crime being considered and not someone’s past mistakes.

“This is not a free pass,” Former Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steel who now is with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform said. “People will still be held accountable. They just won’t get 33 years for stealing a lawn mower.”

Regalado said in the end, 805 will look like law enforcement is failing people because it creates a revolving door of career criminals who won’t face harsher punishment despite doing the same crime over and over.

“Four to five years from now, we’ll say law enforcement’s not doing their job or the court system is not holding people accountable unknowingly because of the effects of a yes on 805,” he said.

Regalado and other sheriffs will begin taking a more public stance against 805 as the November 3rd election comes closer.

"Once you question it and get to the facts, the devil is in the details, you’re going to find out that “no” is going to come really quick for you," Regalado said when it comes to researching the changes people will essentially be “burning into the Oklahoma Constitution”.

“We’re going to see problems from this arise in four or five years, and because we’ve amended the state constitution to include 805, there’s nothing elected officials and lawmakers can do to fix it quickly,” he said.