With members of the Pardon and Parole Board, Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks to the media after a meeting of the board in which more than 500 Oklahoma prisoners were recommended for commutation Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. It was believed to be the largest single day commutation in U.S. history. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file

OKLAHOMA CITY — During his first year in office, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed 774 commutations. He also signed 290 pardons and 101 paroles, according to his office.

“This has been a historic year for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma,” Stitt said in a news release.

On Nov. 1, Stitt signed the largest single-day commutation in U.S. history, commuting the sentences of 523 non-violent, low-level offenders that were recommended by the Pardon and Parole Board under the House Bill 1269 docket.

The action commuted 1,931 years off of sentences.

House Bill 1269 made the provisions of State Question 780 retroactive. Passed by voters in November 2016, State Question 780 downgraded several nonviolent offenses from felonies to misdemeanors and reduced the associated sentences.

House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, was one of the authors of the measure making State Question 780 retroactive.

“These are real lives, real people, with real families and with real friends and they get to go home,” Echols said last year. “And that is a pretty special accomplishment to get to be a part of.”

The Pardon and Parole Board’s favorable recommendations increased by 225% over last year, Stitt said.

Stitt said his administration is committed to pursuing bold changes in criminal justice reform over the next few years.

The changes include reforming the criminal code and changing the culture in state prisons to help people return as productive members of society, Stitt said.

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