DOC Prepares For Early Release Of Inmates Through Transition Fairs Across The State


Monday, October 14th 2019, 6:02 pm
By: Dana Hertneky


In three weeks, hundreds of Oklahoma inmates will be released from prison.

As part of the state’s criminal justice reform, HB1269 allows the sentences of prisoners with simple drug possession and some property crimes to be commuted.  In order to make sure those prisoners are successful once out, the Department of Corrections, Pardon and Parole Board and several nonprofits are holding dozens of transition fairs across the state.

The first one in the Oklahoma City area was Monday at Kate Barnard Correctional Center.  After spending years behind bars, the women at the fair found out just two weeks ago they may be going home early.

Kenzie Clark has been in prison for six years.

“It’s been a long time, yea,” said Kenzie tearfully.

She said she saw her father-in-law commit suicide and started taking Ambien to help her sleep and became addicted. To support her habit, she forged checks and ended up in prison.

Her daughter was 16 at the time. She's now 22.  But come November 4, Kenzie could be going home.

“My anxiety goes through the roof a little bit more every day,” she said.

The nonprofits and state agencies are hoping to help. They offer housing, counseling, addiction services, mentoring and even jobs.

About 1400 prisoners statewide could be impacted by the reforms.

“They are going to have to find a new job, they are going to be moving, they are going to be reunited with their families. Those are the most stressful moments of their lives in just a matter of days,” said Steven Bickley, the executive director of Pardon and Parole.

Kenzie, who previously worked at a bank for 10 years said she wants to go back to work but first will focus on successfully adapting back to society.  And she plans to use every resource at the transition fair to make that happen.

“I want to be good; I don’t want to disappoint anybody again,” said Kenzie.

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