One credit is equal to one additional day off a sentence. Seventeenstates have ordered the release of inmates at the state level So far in 2020, the population is dropping by about 88 inmates per week. The Department of Corrections legislative agenda is decided by the state Board of Corrections. ", Calling Friday's commutation the single largest in U.S. history, Oklahoma Gov. © 2011-2020 Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, Task Force for the Study of State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives. “There are a lot of programs available to inmates,” Wolf said. “I feel like that’s got to have a positive impact on people, right?”. But as of Nov. 25, only 62 inmates were released solely because of their medical conditions, according to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The Department of Corrections believes the long-standing practice isn’t legal. After receiving the letter, the Department of Corrections chose to eliminate the disputed credits. Oklahoma’s corrections officials, lawmakers, and policymakers should work with the Governor’s office and the Parole Board to expedite releasing as many aging and immunocompromised inmates as possible, provided that these individuals do not pose an immediate risk to public safety. He said the good conduct and reentry credits didn’t meet those requirements. This is a big deal and this is an exciting time.". The Oklahoma parole board considered the cases of 814 inmates and recommended commutation for 527 inmates. Stitt said making sure the released inmates have a place to sleep and a job to work is they key to making sure they stay out of the prison system. Among those scheduled for release on Monday are 72 women, 11 of whom already have received their Oklahoma driver's license or state ID card. "If we work together the way that we worked on this bill," Democratic state Rep. Jason Dunnington said, "we can accomplish big things. In March 2020, the COVID-19 coronavirus and its lingering threat has become a potential get out of jail card for inmates who argue its not a matter of … House Bill 1269, which just took effect after it was passed in May by the state legislature, was designed to limit prison time for low-level drug and property crime offenders. In 2019, Oklahoma’s prison population decreased by an average of 35 inmates per week. Catch up on the developing stories making headlines. The state said it expects to have around 2,000 empty prison beds by the end of the year. Turn on desktop notifications for breaking stories about interest? DEC 24, 2020 - More than a half-dozen inmates granted release under the state’s new administrative parole process were convicted of crimes including sexual solicitation of a minor, indecent exposure and failing to register as a sex offender. Quinton Chandler Of the soon-to-be released inmates, according Oklahoma City ABC affiliate KOCO, the average age is nearly 40, with each having been in prison over the last three years. Blake says the credits the Department of Corrections has stopped offering were a lifeline for people sent to prison for serious crimes like drug trafficking. Stitt said more than 700 inmates met with 200 volunteers to enroll in programs designed to aid with a successful reintegration. “Literally every client who was getting good credits before, which is pretty much every one of our clients, is no longer getting them,” he said. Inmates will continue to have sentences reduced as long as the public health emergency remains in effect. Click here to donate online to support our journalism. The agency projects the policy change will increase its prison population by 3.6% in two years and to a lesser extent with each new year. 1 in the nation in incarceration. He has high blood pressure, asthma and is pre-diabetic, and she worries he's especially vulnerable as an inmate in Colorado, where outbreaks in prisons are raging.Prisons across the U.S. have been hit hard by COVID-19. "We all came together, and worked toward, to conduct a very thorough review process to ensure that those eligible for this commutation were actually in line with what the intent and the will of the people were," Stitt said Friday. ", "Today," he added, "we are implementing the will of the people. He’s a graduate of Oklahoma State University. As COVID-19 cases spread though the state’s prisons, some older inmates and their family members have pleaded with Colorado Gov. Inmates seeking early release must apply for commutation or medical parole through the Pardon and Parole Board. Several other methods of earning credits, such as securing a birth certificate and a social security card also don’t qualify anymore. Neal was recently released from prison as part of an early release program in response to the pandemic. "More than 450 Oklahomans are getting a second chance.". The Attorney General is expected to send the corrections agency a formal opinion on the issue, which would provide legal justification for changing the policy. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board reviewed the cases of 814 inmates and recommended 527 to Governor Kevin Stitt. Leaders from both parties praised the bi-partisan bill on Friday, saying that even in today's political climate both parties could work together on commonsense laws for the people. The move could lead to the early release of more than 2,000 inmates, NJ.com reported. Before joining StateImpact, Quinton spent three years reporting in South Central and Southeast Alaska. On April 16th, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine authorized the early release of 105 people from state prison who are nearing the end of their sentence. "Recidivism goes way down when we can get people plugged in and working," he said. Prisoners attend a graduation ceremony at Dick Conner Correctional Center. “It’s rewarding positive behavior, you know what I mean,” he said. “Seeing that taken away is obviously disappointing,” Glen Blake said. More than 900 inmates applied for an early release as part of the new law. About 6,500 inmates in California’s prisons were eligible for release under the state’s high-risk medical release program. “But I had never really known that it was viewed as potentially problematic. They are getting out about 16 months early on average. ... 2020; Oklahoma Hospital Association presents student award December 22, 2020; He adds that the new policy isn’t retroactive – prisoners who already earned time off for good behavior and for participating in reentry programs before November 1 won’t lose those credits. Currently, the BOP has ---inmates … “If you have a 20-year sentence for trafficking, I mean, and you don’t come up for parole, the difference between getting good conduct achievement credits and not getting good (conduct) achievement credits on a 20-year sentence is six or seven years,” Blake said. Michael Washington holds a sign with the number of an inmate who was infected with COVID-19. This order is one of the many preventative measures put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to staff and inmates. By the end of the day on Friday, Echols said the state was "no longer No. County officials want input on early inmate release Coronavirus. The Justice Minister explained that his Ministry is expecting to refer drug addicted inmates for rehabilitation under a proper plan. The policy change means if they aren’t released on parole, a lot of his clients won’t be freed as soon as they previously thought. Oklahoma state prisons are currently at 108 percent capacity. The first 3,500 inmates were freed in April to create space in crowded prisons and 6,900 more were deemed eligible for release in early July, totaling 10,400 releases. Reentry programs are designed to help prisoners get ready for life after prison. StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership among Oklahoma’s public radio stations and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Sixty-five of them will remain in prison because of warrants against them in other cases. ", In 2018, the Prison Policy Initiative showed that Oklahoma had the highest incarceration rate in the U.S. with 1,079 per 100,000 people. “I mean, now that I see the Attorney General’s opinion, I understand where it’s coming from,” Blake said. Blake is a public defender in Tulsa and he’s the lead attorney for Project Commutations which helps Oklahoma prisoners get early release. Early release dates for Oklahoma prisoners just got pushed back The prison population is now projected to grow an additional 3.6% in 2 years. He says prisoners can still earn time off their sentences, just in different ways. He said the law doesn’t allow credits to be awarded for repeatedly completing the same program. The beginning of a possible system-wide spread. "And that's a pretty special accomplishment. He stresses that this change won’t eliminate the credit system. Quinton is an Oklahoma native who started his radio career with KOSU Public Radio in 2011. Apr 7, 2020. Of the nearly 3,000 people released, more than 1,200 people … But obviously it was.”. As part of the process of preparing the inmates for life outside prison walls, the state hosted more than two dozen re-entry fairs for prospective early-release prisoners. BUFFALO, N.Y. 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