Former Okla. Inmate Enjoys First Day Of Freedom After Commutation, Joins OKC Re-Entry Program

Tuesday, November 5th 2019, 6:09 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

It's the first day of freedom for hundreds of Oklahomans who were released from prison Monday. The commutations were a part of the state's sentencing reform efforts.  

Former inmates said time with loved ones is at the top of their list. But some are already taking the first steps to make sure their newly found freedom lasts forever.

Monday, hundreds of Oklahomans walked out of prison, many with nothing more than a box of belongings to their name.

Read Related Story: ‘Best Day Ever’: More Than 450 Oklahoma Prisoners Released In Largest Commutation In U.S. History

Warren Rawls was one of the prisoners released.

“It’s a lot better, I feel sunlight,” said Rawls.

He had been doing hard time in maximum security prison for drug possession. Tuesday, he met with a program coordinator at TEEM, an Oklahoma City re-entry program.

“I feel like it’s God giving me a chance to do something better in my life,” Rawls told the coordinator.  

He said he has already been accepted to a sober living house, where he will go to live on Wednesday. He's hoping TEEM will help him find a job and transportation, and eventually help him get his life back.

“I’ve got two boys, I’ve been locked up so long they don’t really know me,” Rawls said during the intake process.  

Rawls had been in prison for over a year, and he still had 3,000 days left on his sentence. Before that, he had been in and out of prison for years.

But this time is different, he said, because this time it seems like there are people who care about him and want to help him. He plans on taking advantage of all the resources available.

“They’re doing a lot more than they use to, because this is the second or third time in prison. I get out and I don’t have anything, and I got back to the same thing that I was doing to get in trouble.”

TEEM said its seen a handful of former inmates already and expects more in the upcoming days.