On November 6, 2012, Oklahoma voters will voice their opinion on the passage of State Question 762, which proposes to remove the Governor from of the pardon and parole process regarding “non-violent” offenses and offenders.
State Question 762 breezed through the Legislature with broad bi-partisan support, winning approval in the Senate by a vote of 39-1 and in the House by a vote of 86-8.
Since Oklahoma is the ONLY state whose Governor is still directly involved in making pardon and parole decisions on such “minor” offenses, it originally seemed as though passage of State Question 762 was a sure thing, especially when Governor Fallin expressed her initial support of the bill.
Recently, however, the actions of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board have been called into question and Oklahoma District Attorney David Prater has started an investigation into the Board’s potential public notice violations regarding its regular meeting and agendas, as well as allegations that the Board has maintained a “secret docket” which it utilized to consider improper and early commutations or paroles of violent offenders.
The members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board have chosen to take the extraordinary action of hiring a criminal defense attorney (Mack Martin) to defend their actions in Prater’s investigation.
State Question 762 would resolve most of DA Prater’s issues with the Board’s conduct by statutorily prohibiting the Pardon and Parole Board from doing anything beyond providing a mere recommendation to the Governor in instances involving violent offenders required to serve 85% of their sentences before consideration for parole, which they cannot present to the Governor until the offender has served the minimum required sentence.
Governor Fallin has now withdrawn her support of State Question 762 based on her concerns about what crimes would be considered as “non-violent” because she notes that, since taking office, she has denied paroles to 437 offenders who would be considered “non-violent” under State Question 762. She believes she should continue providing oversight of the Boards actions until sufficient additional reforms and changes have been implemented to protect the safety of the public.
Wed, October 31, 2012
by Lawter & Associates, PLLC