The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recently established new eligibility requirements for sentence commutation.
Commutation is a form of clemency that is defined by that state as “as matter of grace, mercy, privilege, or favor” and not a right. An inmate reserves the right to request commutation and have that request reviewed by the Pardon and Parole Board. The Board can recommend reducing an inmate’s sentence to a lesser amount of time or can convert the sentence to time served; however, the governor has the final say on all commutations in Oklahoma.
The new eligibility requirements means more inmates, particularly those who committed nonviolent crimes, will be eligible to apply for a sentence commutation after serving only three years of their sentence. This is a drastic change from the former requirement that demanded an inmate wait at least twenty years before applying.
The Pardon and Parole Board created four classes of inmates and specific eligibility for each:
General nonviolent offenders would be required to first serve thirty six months before applying for commutation;
Nonviolent offenders serving life without parole would be required to serve twenty two years before applying for commutation;
General violent offenders would be required to serve half of eighty-five percent of their sentence before applying for commutation; and
Violent offenders serving life without parole would be required to serve thirty eight years before applying for commutation.
The Board will review all commutation requests once the inmate reaches their required wait time. The reduction of the waiting period, particularly for those who committed nonviolent crimes, is a great opportunity for certain inmates to be free from incarceration much sooner than they expected. In return, the Board hopes to reduce and repair the overpopulated prison system that plagues Oklahoma and its taxpayers.
If you are an inmate with particular questions or would like to discuss your legal options, please contact the office at 405-418-8888.