Oklahoma Parole Board now has final say on nonviolent offenders
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
1/15/13 at 7:19 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Pardon and Parole Board on Monday approved a policy to implement a constitutional change that takes the governor out of the parole process for nonviolent offenders.
The policy is effective immediately and will be used during next week's Pardon and Parole Board hearing, said Terry Jenks, Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board executive director.
Board Chairman Marc Dreyer of Tulsa said he wanted to make history by being the first person to sign a parole under the change.
Voters on Nov. 6 passed State Question 762 by nearly 60 percent of the vote.
The measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution to remove the governor from the parole process for nonviolent offenders.
Currently, all parole recommendations by the board must be approved by Gov. Mary Fallin.
Under the policy change, Fallin signs paroles for approved violent offenders while the Pardon and Parole Board chairman or the executive director as his designee will sign the approved parole certificates for approved nonviolent offenders.
Fallin has 30 days to act on recommendations sent to her by the Pardon and Parole Board, Jenks said.
"The Governor's Office has been pretty efficient," Jenks said.
The process change for nonviolent offenders could result in those offenders being released up to 40 days earlier than the prior procedure that required the approval of the governor, Jenks said.
Fallin had originally supported the measure but changed her mind and opposed it.
"It appears State Question 762 would define nonviolent offenders only by their current offense and would not mandate consideration of past violent behavior," Fallin said before the election was held.
The Oklahoma District Attorneys Association and other law enforcement entities also opposed passage of the measure.
The board gets information regarding the entire history of an offender.
Supporters of the measure believe it will reduce the costs of housing inmates.
Ginny Freeman of Moore is president of Oklahoma Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants. She said her group urged passage of the measure.
Freeman, who attended the meeting, said she was pleased the change finally came to fruition.
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board received very few public comments on the proposed rules, said Tracy George, general counsel.
Original Print Headline: Nonviolent offenders now the charge of Parole Board
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Marc Dreyer: The board chairman wants to be first to sign a parole under the new process.