More than 400 Oklahomans Released from Prison in One Day
On November 4, 2019, over 400 inmates in Oklahoma state prisons and jails were released after the biggest, single-day sentence commutation in United States’ history. This flies in the face of Oklahoma’s long history of mass incarceration. The state has had the highest female incarceration rate in the country since 1991 and has an incarceration rate that is ten times more than the entire country of Canada.
In 2016, Oklahoma made legislative changes that lowered the classifications for certain felonies and misdemeanors, thus, reducing the punishment for those offenses. A 2016 ballot included proposals to reclassify simple drug possession and low-level property crimes as misdemeanors and to allocate the money saved from incarcerating those individuals into substance abuse and mental health services. The mass commutations will save taxpayers an estimated $11.9 million dollars.
In May 2019, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a law giving those changes retroactive effect which also allowed people to expunge old felonies for drug possession and leading to hundreds released on November 4th. Governor Stitt hand-delivered 524 signed commutations for processing on November 1st for hundreds of non-violent, low-level inmates. Of those 524 commutations, 462 Oklahomans were released on November 4th, the others remaining in custody on other charges.
The Washington Post features the story of one of those inmates released: a mother of five from Gainesville, Texas who was serving a seven-year sentence for a drug possession charge. Slate features another story: Warren Rawls, a 35-year-old man with 3,000 days (over 8 years) left on a drug possession charge that he had already served over a year.
Transitioning back into society after release from incarceration is not easy, but Oklahoma just made the transition quicker and better for some.
If you need help with an expungement to help clean your record, contact us today at 910-251-6088.