The Jury Talks Back

11/5/2019

Oklahoma Releases Hundreds Of Inmates In Historic Commutation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 7:14 am

[guest post by Dana]

This is what criminal justice reform looked like in Oklahoma yesterday:

More than 400 inmates were released in Oklahoma on Monday in the largest mass commutation in U.S. history, news station KOCO reports. More than 500 inmates’ sentences were commuted by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board last week as part of the state’s criminal justice reform, and 462 inmates were able to walk free Monday. The inmates who left and are slated to leave prison were doing time for nonviolent crimes, like drug possession and low-level property crime. The move will reportedly save Oklahomans almost $12 million in taxpayer dollars.

Voters determined the legislative change leading up to yesterday’s mass release of prisoners:

Oklahoma voters approved a state question in 2016 that changed simple drug possession and low-level property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Stitt signed a bill this year that retroactively adjusted those sentences, approving a fast-track commutation docket for those who met the criteria.

Echoing his predecessor Mary Fallin, Gov. Stitts, a Republican, did not like that Oklahoma had the “dubious honor” of being at the top of the list for incarcerations. From his comments about the historic event:

“This marks an important milestone of Oklahomans wanting to focus the state’s efforts on helping those with nonviolent offenses achieve better outcomes in life,” Stitt said in a statement Monday.

“This is really a second chance for each and every one of you, and I want to challenge you,” Stitt said. “Because you know there will be tough times ahead. But your kids, your family, your future – everything depends on you getting tough and making sure you get the help you need, so you do not come back here and make the same mistakes that have happened in the past.”

“Now is the first day of the rest of your lives.”

Details:

Of the hundreds of inmates who had their sentences commuted:
— The average age is 39.7 years old
— 75% are men, and 25% are women
— They had been incarcerated for three years
— They were being released an average of 1.34 years early

–Dana

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