Question Submitted by Prater, 052319 OKAG, 2019 OK AG 5

Docket Nº:2019 OK AG 5
Party Name:Question Submitted by: The Honorable David W. Prater, Oklahoma County District Attorney, District 7
Attorney:MIKE HUNTER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA MATTHEW LAFON, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Case Date:May 23, 2019
Court:Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions
 
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2019 OK AG 5

Question Submitted by: The Honorable David W. Prater, Oklahoma County District Attorney, District 7

No. 2019 OK AG 5

Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions

May 23, 2019

MIKE HUNTER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA

MATTHEW LAFON, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL

¶0 This office has received your request for an official Attorney General Opinion in which you ask, in effect, the following questions: 1. May the Department of Corrections expend funds derived from administrative fees that have been deposited by a local community sentencing system into the Oklahoma Community Sentencing Revolving Fund pursuant to 22 O.S.2011, § 988.9 (B) without the prior consent of that local community sentencing system's planning council?

2. May the Department of Corrections expend funds derived from administrative fees deposited by and credited to a local community sentencing system for the benefit of other community sentencing systems or for other Department of Corrections purposes?

3. May the Department of Corrections, in determining the amount of legislatively-appropriated funds apportioned to a local community sentencing system, take into account the amount of administrative fees collected by that local community sentencing system?

I.

BACKGROUND

¶1 In 1999, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the Oklahoma Community Sentencing Act in its current form (the "Act"). 1999 Okla. Sess. Laws 1st Ex. Sess. ch. 4 (codified as amended at 22 O.S.2011 & Supp.2018, §§ 988.1 --988.23 and 57 O.S.Supp.2018, § 557.2). 1 The Act "offers courts a variety of punishments and treatments to give offenders as an alternative to incarceration." 2000 OK AG 55 at ¶ 4. A "community sentence" as defined by the Act is "a punishment imposed by the court as a condition of a deferred or suspended sentence for an eligible offender[.]" 22 O.S.Supp.2018, § 988.2 (A)(2). "Eligible offenders" are those convicted of, or having entered a plea other than not guilty to, a felony offense and who meet certain evaluation and assessment requirements. Id. § 988.2(A)(8); see also id. § 988.18 (requiring sentencing judge to order assessment and evaluation prior to sentencing for any offender considered for community punishment). A community sentence may include, among other things, measures like community service, substance abuse and behavioral treatment, and restrictive housing options. Id. § 988.8(A). An offender serving a community sentence is not an inmate in the custody of the Department of Corrections ("DOC"), but rather is "in community custody within the county." 22 O.S.2011, § 988.12 (A).

¶2 To achieve its goals, the Act "[e]stablish[ed] a statewide community sentencing system," 22 O.S.2011, § 988.3 (2), which is defined as "a network of all counties through their respective local community sentencing systems serving the state judicial system and offering support services to each other through reciprocal and interlocal agreements and interagency cooperation." 22 O.S.Supp.2018, § 988.2 (A)(9) (emphasis added). The term "local community sentencing system" is defined as "the use of public and private entities to deliver services to the sentencing court for punishment of eligible felony offenders under the authority of a community sentence." Id. § 988.2(A)(1). Each local community sentencing system ("Local System") has a community sentencing planning council ("Planning Council"), which is "a group of citizens and elected officials specified by law or appointed by the Chief Judge of the Judicial District which plans the [Local System] and with the assistance of the Community Sentencing Division of [DOC] locates treatment providers and resources to support the [Local System]." Id. § 988.2(A)(4); see also 22 O.S.2011, § 988.5 (setting forth membership and operational requirements of Planning Councils). The Planning Council is responsible for, among other things, planning the Local System "with allocated funds and other available resources according to the provisions of the law and with the assistance of the Community Sentencing Division of [DOC.]" 22 O.S.Supp.2018, § 988.6 (A).

¶3 Once the Planning Council has prepared a "detailed plan" for the Local System's upcoming fiscal year, see 22 O.S.Supp.2018, § 988.6 (A)(3), the plan is submitted to the Community Sentencing Division (the "Division") of DOC for "state review and appropriate funding." 22 O.S.2011, § 988.7 (A); OAC 170:25-3-1(b) (requiring plan to be submitted by February 1 of each fiscal year in a format prescribed by the Division's Deputy Director). 2 By statute, the plan must set forth Local System...

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