Oklahoma Parole Board may change policy because of DA's accusations

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board may make a major change to its policy in response to a district attorney's accusations it has for years illegally voted on whether inmates should be considered for early release.
by Nolan Clay Modified: November 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm •  Published: November 13, 2012
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Board members and officials denied they acted in secret. They said the step that Prater complained about only determined whether an inmate got on the docket of a future meeting.

Board officials said the name of any inmate who made it on to a future docket would appear on the board's website. Prosecutors and the public then could object to any early release.

The attorney general's office also is investigating whether the board violated the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.

Other policies

The board also is considering changes to other policies because of the passage this month of State Question 762.

The measure amended the Oklahoma Constitution to remove the governor from the parole process for nonviolent offenders. The governor still has the final say on violent offenders.

The board plans to vote in January on changes required by the constitutional amendment. The board intends to get input from the public, prosecutors and legislators before final votes on those policies.

Board Chairman Marc Dreyer urged the board “to think through every possible thing that we can” about the policies.

“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,” Dreyer said.

The board is meeting this week and again in December. Officials said Gov. Mary Fallin still will have the final say on any nonviolent offenders recommended for parole in November.

Board members plan to put off for a month their votes on any nonviolent offenders on dockets in December that they agree should be paroled.

NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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