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Inmate Kayla Jo Jeffries speaks before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board in Oklahoma City on Nov. 7, 2018. Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman file

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted unanimously Monday to approve a policy allowing the board to waive personal appearances for offenders when those appearances are not required by state statute or administrative rule.

Administrative rules require personal appearances in Stage Two commutation hearings, for violent offenses, said Justin Wolf, general counsel for the Pardon and Parole Board. Those cases would not be impacted by the change. Inmates often appear before the board by video conferencing.

Internal policy also gives personal appearances to other groups of inmates, Wolf said. The change the board approved Monday would give the board discretion to waive personal appearances in those cases.

One of the personal appearance subsets the board has is for drug crimes, which have changed significantly in statutory range of punishment, Wolf said. After the passage of State Question 780, simple drug possession is now a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.

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