OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted to recommend the commutation of sentences for 527 Oklahomans, today. The recommended commutation docket is expected to be signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt, prompting the release of hundreds of Oklahomans on Monday.
This vote signifies the most commutations ever awarded in one day anywhere in the nation and sets the stage for 527 Oklahomans (a total of 1,931 total years commuted) to be reunited with their families and communities on Monday, Nov. 4.
Criminal justice reform advocates said the following in response to the news:
“This is an unforgettable and unprecedented day for the state of Oklahoma. For too long, Oklahoma has imprisoned more of its citizens than any other state in the nation, and the actions of the Pardon and Parole Board today will go a long way toward reducing our incarceration rate,” said Susan Esco, an Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR) board member. “Voters said in 2016 with the passage of State Question 780 that they want criminal justice reform, and public support for these changes remains strong.”
House Bill 1269, which went into effect today, made State Question 780 retroactive. This allows hundreds of Oklahomans who were arrested and charged prior to the passage of SQ 780 to be released from prison and creates a streamlined expungement process to reduce their felony charges to misdemeanors.
“Today is an important day for criminal justice reform in the state of Oklahoma. In just a few days, 527 Oklahomans will be able to do what they’ve dreamt about for months or even years–go home to their families and reconnect with their communities,” said Shanna Gong, Oklahoma Director for FWD.us. “Under the leadership of Gov. Stitt and because of the commitment of the Pardon and Parole Board and the Legislature, Oklahoma continues to emerge as a leader in the criminal justice reform space. Other state leaders that believe people who make mistakes deserve another chance, are interested in saving taxpayer dollars by safely reducing their prison population, and understand the importance of maintaining family units, should take note.”