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Move to improve openness is good idea by Oklahoma parole board

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: November 15, 2012

Dreyer's call for outside input is a good move. Although the new law takes effect once the Nov. 6 vote is certified, it may not be in place until the December or January meeting because he wants to allow time for public comments. As he put it this week, “We waited 60 years to get here. It would be more trouble than we would want to imagine if we came out of the chute on this upside-down.”

Residents should be encouraged by that approach, and by the board's efforts to improve transparency. Oklahoma County's district attorney has been critical of how the board places inmates on its docket for early parole consideration. At their meeting this week, board members discussed a change that would place names of those inmates on meeting agendas, allowing prosecutors and the public ample time to weigh in.

A retooling of the board's website by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services is in the works and should make dockets easier to find and understand. Consideration is being given to centralized mailing and email addresses through OMES for the public to use.

These are changes for the better, and so is SQ 762. One parole board official estimated that perhaps 70 nonviolent offenders per month will wind up being paroled under the new law. That translates to about 850 per year from a prison population of roughly 26,000. Every other state somehow manages to handle most parole cases without the governor riding shotgun. Oklahoma will, too.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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