District Attorney John Wampler and the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association encourage defeat of State Question 762, which would remove the Governor from the pardon and parole process on non-violent offenders. Recent recommendations of the Parole Board relating to early release of inmates have prompted the Association to call for a comprehensive review of the early release process.
Over the past several months, District Attorneys have discovered serious issues with the way the Parole Board is handling paroles. Recently, the Parole Board considered an inmate sentenced for first degree manslaughter (an 85% crime) after having served only four years of a 10 year sentence. For years crime victims have been told that offenders serving time for 85% crimes will have to serve at least 85% of their sentence before having any chance of release, but that just isn’t happening on all cases.
Offenders sentenced to life without parole have been considered for early release and offenders facing consecutive sentences are being paroled by the Board straight to the street instead of to the next sentence.
Wampler stated, “These actions by the Parole Board are troubling to prosecutors and cause us concern about removing the Governor from the parole process. I believe it would be a terrible mistake to pass State Question #762 before these recently-discovered issues can be addressed by the Legislature. The Governor is our last line of defense against such early releases of repeat offenders and dangerous criminals.”
If State Question #762 is passed, non-violent offenders, if recommended by the Parole Baord for parole, will hit the streets within days of the decision. Drug dealers, drunk drivers, child pornographers, abusers of vulnerable adults in nursing facilities and white collar criminals will all be eligible for release without review of the Governor. No crime is victimless. It is imperative to keep the Governor in this process as the ultimate gatekeeper.
“In the last few days, Governor Mary Fallin has withdrawn her support of this measure and has encouraged the defeat of SQ #762, in addition to numerous law enforcement agencies that have voiced their opposition to the question,” according to Wampler.