OKLAHOMA CITY - A woman who was once looking at a life behind bars instead walked out of Kate Barnard Corrections a free woman.
Kayla Jeffries joins twenty other nonviolent offenders whose sentences were commuted by Governor Mary Fallin Wednesday.
"I was sentenced to twenty years in prison," she explained.
With her papers in hand and a smile on her face, she climbed into an SUV with family members and went to a restaurant. The conversation, laden with laughter and love for the newly released mother of two.
Jeffries was arrested for theft and drug charges in 2011. After violating probation and unsuccessfully attempting drug court, she admits she went on the run.
"She's a free woman," said Jeffries' mentor Christie Luther. "One minute shes an offender, the next minute, she's on the other side of the gate."
She took pictures and enjoyed a Facetime conversation with her niece, nephew, mother, and daughter.
"Baby, I'm sad I missed your birthday, too," she said to her daughter on the phone. "But I'm not going to miss another one, how about that? We're going to have the best birthdays from here on out."
That sense of family is one of her biggest sources of motivation.
"I get to spend my first Christmas with my two-year-old," said Jeffries.
That toddler was born while she was behind bars in prison, shortly after she turned herself in because she couldn't get the necessary medical care while on the run. Her toddler, and her six-year-old, are why she's so grateful the state commuted her sentence in early December.
"It's amazing. It's the best Christmas present ever," she said. "I'm most looking forward to just being a good mom."
But she admits there's much adjustment that's coming.
"Eating with a fork is weird. I've been eating with a spork for three years," she laughed.
Jeffries attained her cosmetology license while behind bars, and starts a career at a salon Friday. She wants the public to know this group of newly-released citizens are ready to take full advantage of this second chance.
"Even labeled as a felon, we’re not who society says we are," she said. "We’ve made mistakes, but that doesn’t define us. That isn’t the end of our story. We’re ready to do better and love life the right way. To Governor Mary Fallin, OCJR, everybody who's been supportive in this process, I'm eternally grateful for them."