Oklahoma lawmakers should reject effort to limit new parole law

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: December 19, 2012

Oklahoma voters made it clear in November that they believe the state Pardon and Parole Board can do its job without the governor serving as a backstop on every, single case. At least one Oklahoma prosecutor thinks the voters were duped.

Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn says he doesn't think voters understood what sorts of inmates could be paroled under State Question 762, which removed the governor from the parole process for nonviolent inmates. Mashburn wants the Legislature to look for ways to limit SQ 762's impact by, for example, expanding the list of violent crimes.

As the Tulsa World reported, 63 crimes are on the books that are classified as violent, and thus require the governor's approval in parole cases. How many more would make Mashburn and his fellow prosecutors comfortable?

He said he doesn't think voters realized what kind of offenders would qualify as nonviolent. But our sense is the voters had a pretty good idea of what they were voting for, because this issue was well publicized ahead of the election. Voters understood that no other state makes its governor sign off on every parole recommendation, and that somehow those states have figured out a way to make their systems work. Oklahoma can, too.

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