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Fewer Oklahoma inmates get parole since Fallin took office, records show

In Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's first two years in office, the number of paroles granted to the state's inmates has dropped sharply. Last year, fewer than 500 were paroled. In 2004, while Brad Henry was in office, more than 2,000 inmates were paroled.
by Andrew Knittle Published: March 25, 2013
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In Gov. Mary Fallin's first two years in office, the number of paroles granted to the state's inmates has dropped sharply.

Last year, fewer than 500 were paroled. In 2004, while Brad Henry was in office, more than 2,000 inmates were paroled in a single year.

Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Fallin, said there are a number of reasons for the decline in paroles.

Weintz said the Pardon and Parole Board has told the governor's office that numbers are down because more inmates are accruing earned credits and discharging from prison earlier than expected.

He also said more and more offenders are waiving parole so they can participate in the prison system's relatively new global positioning satellite program.

Under the so-called GPS program, only certain, low-risk inmates are allowed early release on the condition they wear an ankle monitor at all times. Hundreds of inmates are participating in the program, which started in late 2011.

Weintz also remarked that the Pardon and Parole Board has stated that Fallin denies more parole cases than her predecessor.

While Henry had more parole cases to consider than Fallin has so far, he approved paroles at a much higher rate during his early days in office.

Through the end of last year, Fallin had denied 53 percent of the parole cases she reviewed. During Henry's first year in office, he approved more than 80 percent of the cases that came before him.

Along with her staff, Fallin reviews an inmate's case, prior convictions, victim testimony, behavior in prison and other factors before deciding whether to approve or deny parole.

“Our legal staff will sometimes meet in person with family members, attorneys or others involved in the case,” Weintz said. “Our office also collects any letters or petitions sent to the governor regarding the case.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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