'Best Day Ever': More Than 450 Oklahoma Prisoners Released In Largest Commutation In U.S. History

Monday, November 4th 2019, 6:04 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

More than 450 non-violent Oklahoma prisoners were released Monday. It's part of the largest commutation in U.S. history. 

On Friday, November 1 the day the new law went into effect, Governor Stitt signed the commutation papers for 524 inmates. Most of them Monday walked out from prison gates across the state and into the arms of waiting loved ones.

The commutations are an extension of State Question 780, where Oklahomans voted to reclassify simple drug possession and low-level property crimes as misdemeanors.

“Thank God for the 780 law and the people who voted for it,” said Shannon Brown, who was released on Monday.

Leigh Silverhorn was serving 10 years for marijuana possession.

“It was probably five dollars’ worth,” Silverhorn told reporters Monday.

Her fellow prisoners cheered as she walked free.

“It felt exciting, like really exciting. Like, I kind of feel pressured a little bit to do bigger things, you know,” she said.

“I believe holding people in sentences like this is ridiculous,” said Jessica Norton a mother of three young children.

She said she was working on getting her psychology degree, when she became addicted to opioids and ended up in prison.

“Get people help instead of locking them up, because this just kind of traumatizes you and makes you crazy you know,” said Norton.

The women said they now have plans to get jobs, stay clean and be there for their kids.

Brittney McKay will now get to be there for her dad's surgery. But first there's a celebration planned.

“We’ve got a party when we get home. A welcome home party. We’ve already got the banners up. Best day ever,” said Phylis Handley, Britney’s grandmother.