Documentary Subject To Go Before Pardon And Parole Board

Tuesday, February 9th 2016, 4:50 pm
By: News 9

An Oklahoma family said they hope Gov. Mary Fallin will stick to her word about prison reform.

Their loved one will go before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board soon for a life without parole conviction for cocaine possession.

Larry Yarbrough, of Kingfisher, has already served 20 years of his life sentence.

When she was re-elected, Fallin said the state should strongly consider "non-violent" offenders when trying to ease prison overpopulation.

Yarbrough is the subject of the upcoming documentary "Voices in a Jailhouse" by filmmakers Mark Faulk and Brittney Guest.

“One of his opening sentences was, ‘This is a death sentence,’ that ‘murderers go in and they get less time,’” Faulk said.

Yarbrough is a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who's spent 20 years serving a life without parole sentence for possession of an ounce of cocaine.

“He really is the poster child for everything that is wrong with drug sentencing in Oklahoma,” Faulk said.

Faulk said the pardon and parole board has approved Yarbrough twice, but the governors at the time would not sign off on him.

“As a comparison, Texas, on the one hand, has lowered their incarceration rate over the last four or five years, they've saved their taxpayers $2 billion in money,” Faulk explained.  “Oklahoma, on the other hand, keeps going higher and higher and higher on our incarceration rate."

In Fallin's 2015 address, she promised to get smart on crime, saying non-violent drug offenders don't need to spend long stints at the state penitentiary.

“Larry is the perfect message to send that they are serious about justice reform in Oklahoma,” Faulk said.

Supporters like former state Sen. Connie Johnson said Yarbrough has received commendations from the Department of Corrections and has never had a write-up.

Faulk said Yarbrough has more than paid his debt to society.

“Not only is he costing taxpayers that million dollars average that it costs to keep someone in for life, he also has medical bills on top of that,” Faulk told News 9.

Faulk said keeping Yarbrough in prison does not make sense in a climate where Oklahoma has $1 billion shortfall in the budget.

He said he hopes the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board and Fallin make Yarbrough a free man.

“His life is in her hands,” Faulk said.

Yarbrough goes before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board Wednesday, February 10.

The documentary has not been released yet.

Click here to learn more about the filmmakers.