WASHINGTON, DC – FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement today on the outcome of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board hearings:
“Reuniting families before the holidays is something all Oklahomans can celebrate, and we are so thankful that the Pardon and Parole Board approved 9 out of 9 commutation recommendations, including for some people facing life in prison. We are thankful for the 21 commutations Governor Fallin already granted earlier this month, and urge her to quickly commute these sentences and release these Oklahomans as soon as possible.”
Pardon and Parole Board Recommends Commutation for an Additional Nine Applicants
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board confirmed the will of Oklahoma voters today by recommending commutation for an additional nine applicants being assisted by Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.
The board recommended commutation for all nine applicants, all of whom would face less or no prison time if sentenced today, who will now be forwarded to Governor Mary Fallin, who will ultimately decide if their sentences should be commuted. One week ago, Gov. Fallin commuted the sentences of 21 applicants to time served and they were immediately reunited with their families in an emotional day that received national attention.
“The Pardon and Parole Board’s actions, along with the previous commutations, uphold the voters’ strong mandate to end unjust, unnecessary prison sentences for low-level drug offenses,” said John Estus, Chief of Staff for Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform. “We urge Gov. Fallin to commute the sentences of the individuals approved today to time served as she did for the 21 individuals last week, with the hope that they, too, can spend this holiday season with their families.”
These nine applications recommended by the Pardon and Parole Board for commutation Wednesday are part of 46 overall cases that OCJR recommended to the Board. These individuals’ sentences are drastically out of step with voter approved reforms (SQ 780/781) passed in 2016 and legislative reforms passed earlier this year. Going forward, OCJR is calling for legislation that makes SQ 780 retroactive.
“Last week’s commutations by the governor are being praised nationwide and have clearly created momentum for more. The board’s actions today were appropriate and the latest sign that retroactivity of SQ 780 is a logical next step toward a more fair and fiscally responsible criminal justice system in Oklahoma,” said Susan Esco, board member of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.
Gov. Fallin has said she wants to act on all items the board sends to her desk before her term ends next month.
“Gov. Fallin has championed criminal justice reform in this state, and sending these Oklahomans home for the holidays will be a lasting part of her legacy as a leader on this critical issue,” said Estus.