- Ada, Oklahoma

February 13, 2012

Oklahoma House bill will reward violent criminals, family asserts

The Ada News

Ada — Editor, The Ada News:

The current Oklahoma Speaker of the House Kris Steele has recently authored a bill numbered HB 3052.  This bill changes the way a certain list of violent offenders earn credits for early release after they have served 85 percent of their sentence as required by law. Current law states that credits are only earned once the 85 percent threshold has been reached. HB 3052 would allow current and new prisoners to begin earning these credits from the day they enter into prison. Examples of offenses that are included on this list are lewd molestation of a child, child prostitution, forcible sodomy, first degree burglary, first degree rape and first degree murder.  

 As your readers may be aware, a very important member of our family, Claude Arterburn, was robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Our family finally tasted our first sweet nectar of justice when Trey Lee Irvin was sentenced to 30 years.  We hope to soon see the other two of the accused meet the same fate.  With all of the charges against the criminals who attacked and bludgeoned my grandfather, this newly proposed bill would offer them a chance to earn early release. It would offer the same chance to every child molester, every murderer, and every criminal convicted of the many vile forms of manslaughter.  

How can anyone condone the early release of such violent criminals? When I voiced my concerns, I was told this was a request by the prison system. They say these criminals have no incentive to act as a model prisoner should until they have reached that 85 percent mark. So what this bill does is dangle the carrot of freedom just a bit closer to the rabbit in hopes that the rabbit will hop in the right direction.  Are you kidding me? I would honestly love to know whose bright idea it was to reward someone who nearly beats an elderly person to death or someone who raped a child by giving them a ticket home a bit earlier than our justice system intended. This is no different than buying a child a toy to prevent him from falling in the floor and throwing a fit at your local department store. Each one of those people who committed a crime on that 85 percent list had a choice to make before they broke the law, and they made the wrong choice. It is not the right decision to reward those people in any way, shape, or form.  

 When Mr. Tillison of the Pontotoc County District Attorney’s Office alerted us to this piece of legislation, our family was absolutely shocked and appalled. We are hoping that other readers, too, will feel the same.  We are asking concerned citizens to contact their representatives in both the Oklahoma House and Senate and voice opposition to this bill in hopes that we may kill it before it can serve as a symbol of hope for prisoners seeking a ‘get out of jail early’ card.  The House Speaker’s email is

 Dustin Bishop

Family of Claude Arterburn


Editor, The Ada News:

I am not a political activist. For the most part, House bills being proposed do not interest me. I don’t even fancy myself as being a well-educated woman. However, I have been to a few goat ropins and a county fair and will tell you I have never been so infuriated as I am after reading proposed HB 3052. That bill is set to go before committee next week. From there to the House and then on to the Senate in the state of Oklahoma. After that, it will become law. The bill is almost certainly a slam dunk simply because of who authored it. That would be Kris Steele, the speaker of the house. I can assure you this bill does not serve the best interest of the law-abiding citizens of this state. It only serves the best interest of violent criminals. They are listed by offense in the bill.

It is my understanding Speaker Steele wrote this bill at the request of district attorneys and wardens from around our great state. It would be very helpful to the voters to know the names of those district attorneys considering they are elected officials just as Speaker Steele, members of the committee, House members and state senators. If names were made available, then we would know who to contact and ask one simple question. “Are you serious?” If you are, then you should start looking for another job today. This idiotic bill will allow all manner of vermin to be released from prison early due to credits earned for good behavior the day they enter prison. Really!!! That to me is a problem. Rewarding prisoners should never be an option. We have been doing that for years and yet all the prisons are full and they have a waiting list. So how about we give common sense some CPR and revive it. Common sense tells me if you are in prison, you are there to be punished. Here’s what you get for good behavior … nothing. The flip side of that is this. For bad behavior you are going to get further punishment! Walk in here (prison) and cause trouble (and) you’re going to be in trouble.

Growing up, I only wish I could have earned credits for good behavior when I was being punished. That makes me laugh out loud. Being a child in the 1950s when you were going be punished for bad behavior, there wasn’t time to earn credits because as soon as dad got home and mom told him how you misbehaved, your punishment was coming as soon as he removed his belt. Therefore, I can assure you at my house the incentive to behave wasn’t that we could earn credits. The motivation for good behavior was to avoid punishment.

A violent criminal should not be able to earn credits toward early release. They did the crime and they should serve the time. If this HB 3052 passes  as written, a sentence of 10 years could easily be served in 5 years. If our trusted judicial officials had wanted a convicted violent offender to serve 5 years, that would have been the sentence.

This bill would slaughter our current courts decisions. Are we going to stand for this?

Call your representative, call your senator, call your neighbors. Stop HB 3052 amending 21 OAS. 2011, Section 13.1 before it becomes law.

I have contacted Speaker Kris Steele and Rep. Todd Themes and, as of this writing, have had no response.

Shirley Phillips

Daughter of violent crime

survivor Claude Arterburn