Board: Parole changes will take time to implement
BY CARY ASPINWALL World Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
11/14/12 at 7:43 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Although a law took effect Tuesday giving the state Pardon and Parole Board the authority to grant parole to nonviolent offenders, board members said they need more time to implement changes.
State Question 762 amended the Oklahoma Constitution to give the board final say in paroles of nonviolent offenders, a huge change for Oklahoma, which had remained the only state where the governor final say in all types of parole.
This month, paroles recommended for all nonviolent offenders will still be subject to approval by Gov. Mary Fallin. That's because the Pardon and Parole Board's meeting Tuesday began before the votes were certified later Tuesday and the law took effect.
At the board meeting, members discussed a realistic time frame to revise policies regarding the paroles of nonviolent offenders.
Most likely, all nonviolent offenders on the December docket will have to wait until January for consideration as the board revises its policy, board Chairman Marc Dreyer said.
"It has to be done correctly," he said. "We'll be in beta mode a little as we get accustomed to changes."
The board plans to seek public comment for 30 days after a draft of the revised policy is introduced and likely will hold a special meeting in January to vote on the changes.
Board member Currie Ballard cautioned against further delays.
"The people of this state have voted on that, and we need to execute it," he said.
Adding transparency: This policy change is one of several in the works now for the Pardon and Parole Board. The board is also redesigning its website and consolidating its complex system of parole dockets to make the process easier for the public to understand.
The current system of multiple stages and speciality dockets is cumbersome and confusing to the public, Executive Director Terry Jenks said. To make it simpler and more transparent, the new system will consist of a larger, single monthly docket that can be searched online by prisoner name, inmate number, county or parole docket type, he said.
The public also will be able to submit protest and support letters to the board by email as well as through the U.S. Postal Service, Jenks said.
Original Print Headline: Parole changes will take time
Cary Aspinwall 918-581-8477
Marc Dreyer: The Parole Board chairman said changes must be made "correctly" after the board was granted authority to parole nonviolent offenders