Oklahoma has the highest imprisonment rate in the country.
In November 2016, the state reclassified drug possession and certain theft crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. This change means that these offenses are no longer eligible for a state prison sentence. State legislators then passed a series of reforms in 2018 that include a reduction of the maximum sentence for possession with intent to distribute so that no one can receive a life sentence for a low-level drug crime. These reforms, while important, only apply to people committing new crimes, not those already in prison.
To help correct the excessive and unjust sentences people are still serving for these crimes, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR), in partnership with FWD.us, launched a campaign in May — Project Commutation — to help some of the most-burdened individuals apply for commutation.
A majority of Oklahomans say they do not want to send people to prison for drug possession. We believe that it’s only fair those who still remain incarcerated under the old law have a chance to go home.
By sharing these stories, we hope to persuade Oklahoma communities, the Parole Board, and lawmakers that people like Juanita, Felicia, and Kayla — who you’ll meet below — deserve commutation.