Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board seeks public input on new amendment
BY CARY ASPINWALL World Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
11/13/12 at 7:17 AM
Oklahoma's Pardon and Parole Board plans to seek public input on how to implement a law change that allows the board final say in paroles of nonviolent offenders.
The board, which begins its four-day November hearing on Tuesday, wants to consider comments from the public and prosecutors throughout the state as it discusses how to implement newly passed State Question 762, chairman Marc Dreyer said.
The constitutional amendment removes the governor from paroles of nonviolent offenders, and becomes law as soon as the vote is certified. But the board may not have a policy in place until its December or January meeting, to allow at least 30 days for public comments, Dreyer said.
"We've waited 60 years for this in Oklahoma, we can certainly wait another couple of months to get it right," he said.
Because the vote on SQ 762 won't be certified until after the board begins reviewing and voting on the November parole docket Tuesday, all of this month's recommendations will still be reviewed by Gov. Mary Fallin, he said.
Dreyer said he thinks removing the governor from nonviolent paroles won't change the way board members consider cases.
"We all kind of process and review as if we were making the final decision anyway," he said. "I think we're using due diligence at a maximum level now."
Board members will also continue to discuss ways to increase transparency and accountability to the public. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services has been working on revamping the board's website, and the monthly dockets will be made easier for the public to search and understand, Dreyer said.
They're considering centralized mailing and email addresses through the agency for the public to send comments and information to, he said.
"We want to let people know we want to be as open and transparent as we can be, and we haven't done as good a job of communicating that," he said.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater accused the board of "deceptive" practices when placing inmates on a list for early parole consideration without proper advance notice under Oklahoma's Open Meeting Act. That launched an investigation into the board's procedures, but no charges have been filed against board members for the alleged Open Meeting Act violations.
Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board
November meeting begins 9 a.m. Tuesday at Hillside Community Corrections Center, 3300 Martin Luther King Ave. in Oklahoma City.
Original Print Headline: Pardon and Parole Board seeks public input
Cary Aspinwall 918-581-8477
The Rev. Marc Dreyer, pastor of the Memorial Baptist Church, and one of five members on the Oklahoma's Pardon and Parole Board, speaks during a morning service at the church, on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World