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Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board sets new guidelines

On Monday, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board approved new requirements making more nonviolent Oklahoma inmates eligible for sentence commutations after serving only three years of a sentence.

Oklahoma City attorney, Tony Coleman works with clients seeking commutation. According to Coleman, the board may be inundated with applications from nonviolent offenders who are suddenly eligible. “My phones are going to ring off the hook,” he said.

The board voted unanimously to approve the changes. Pending a review of the state attorney general’s office, the following changes will become procedure.

They created four classes of inmates and specific eligibility for each:

  • Nonviolent offenders would be required to first serve 36 months.
  • Violent offenders would be required to serve half of 85 percent of their sentence.
  • Nonviolent offenders serving life without parole would be required to serve 22 years.
  • Violent offenders serving life without parole would be required to serve 38 years.

In addition, if an offender has not served the time required, they may still seek commutation by getting letters of recommendation from two trial officials, such as a judge and a prosecutor, or by request of the governor.

Commutation, is defined by the state as, “a matter of grace, mercy, privilege, and not a right.

The governor has the final say on all commutations in Oklahoma.