OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin commuted the sentences of nine nonviolent offenders who were incarcerated for 10 years or more for offenses that now carry either no prison term or a significantly shorter prison term.
The governor commuted eight of nine offenders to time served, meaning the inmates will be released from custody. The inmates are all expected to be freed by Friday.
These nine offenders, seven men and two women, are among a second group of former inmates being assisted by Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, a bipartisan coalition of community leaders working to help dozens of inmates seek a commutation, which is a form of clemency intended to correct an unjust or excessive sentence. Fallin earlier this month commuted the sentences of 21 nonviolent offenders, 20 women and one man, all to time served.
Their applications were submitted to the governor after they received a favorable vote from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. The board last week recommended a total of nine offenders for the governor to consider. The governor commuted eight of them to time served; she commuted the other one to a term that makes the offender eligible for parole soon.
Those being assisted through the commutation campaign are serving 10 years or longer for crimes that now carry lesser punishments following recent reforms approved by voters and legislators.
“I have reviewed these applications carefully, with the public safety of our citizens a key consideration,” said Fallin. “Based on the will of the voters and legislators, I cannot think of any reason why these eight people should remain in prison. It’s not good policy and it’s not good for Oklahoma. These Oklahomans are going to be better served out of prison with their families, in treatment, and getting back in the workforce as taxpayers.”
Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform worked with University of Tulsa law students and others on a commutation campaign that helped eligible inmates prepare paperwork. In addition to helping with the commutation applications, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform worked with family, friends and non-profits to build strong reentry plans for the offenders. The organization has secured treatment, housing, transportation and even job interview offers.
Fallin is a strong advocate for criminal justice reform.
She signed 17 criminal justice reforms during her time in office, including seven this year that will reduce the flow of nonviolent offenders into prison; establish a more efficient and streamlined parole process; and facilitate successful reentry that reduces recidivism.