Oklahoma Pardon And Parole Board Prepare For Largest Commutation In Nation's History

Thursday, October 31st 2019, 6:34 pm
By: Caleigh Bourgeois

The lives of around 400 Oklahoma inmates are expected to be changed forever, starting Friday.

Several of low-level offenders will have their sentences commuted if the governor signs off on it as expected.

It all started in 2016.

“State Question 780 was passed, which made simple drug possession and property crimes less than a thousand dollars misdemeanors,” Executive Director of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board Steven Bickley said.

Bickley said, since then, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board has been preparing for a massive commutation.

“We're going to act the first day the law goes into effect, so a sense of urgency to get this done and have these inmates released and home with their families before Thanksgiving,” Bickley said.

The Pardon and Parole Board will make commutation recommendations for around half of the 900 inmates behind bars for simple possession and property crimes.

That recommendation will go to Governor Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign it as soon as possible.

“It's going to be the largest commutation in history and so we're excited to be there,” Governor Stitt said.

If Stitt signs Friday, the inmates throughout the state will be released Monday, thanks to lots of paperwork done on the back end.

“The Department of Corrections did all the work necessary so that if the governor signs it Friday afternoon, which I believe he will, inmates will be going home on Monday,” Bickley said.

Stitt said he plans to be at the Taft Prison Monday for the release of around 80 female inmates.

The state has already held several job fairs to prepare inmate across Oklahoma for the transition.

“We want to give these folks second chances and get them the substance abuse treatment that they need,” Stitt said.

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