Mass Oklahoma Inmate Release Is Nation's Largest

400 inmates expected to leave prison Monday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 1, 2019 12:21 AM CDT
Mass Oklahoma Inmate Release Is Nation's Largest
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks at the Cox Business Center in Tulsa, Okla.   (Matt Barnard/Tulsa World via AP File)

More than 400 Oklahoma inmates are expected to walk out of prison Monday in what state officials say is the largest single-day mass commutation in the nation's history. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is expected to approve the commutations Friday and forward them to Gov. Kevin Stitt, a former CEO who has made it a priority for Oklahoma to lose its ranking as the state with the highest incarceration rate in the nation. The commutations will be processed by prison officials over the weekend, setting them all up for release on Monday, said Steve Bickley, the new executive director of the Pardon and Parole Board.

Oklahoma voters approved a state question in 2016 that made simple drug possession and low-level property crimes misdemeanors instead of felonies. A bill approved earlier this year and signed by Stitt applied those sentences retroactively and authorized an accelerated, single-stage commutation docket for those who qualify. The agency initially identified nearly 800 inmates imprisoned for simple possession and another 98 convicted of low-level property offenses, but some had additional sentences to serve or were otherwise ineligible. Bickley said any inmate who committed serious misconduct while incarcerated or those whose commutation was opposed by the local prosecutor or a victim were not included on Friday's docket, reports the AP.

(Read more Oklahoma stories.)

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