OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After a historic vote by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, over 500 Department of Correction inmates were recommended for commutation with hundreds expected to be released on Monday.
Those hundreds of DOC inmates are now a part of history after Friday's Pardon and Parole Board meeting.
"Five-hundred and twenty-seven inmates have been recommended to the governor for commutation. Four-hundred and sixty-nine inmates are scheduled to be released as a result of this,” said Steve Bickley, executive director for the Pardon and Parole Board.
Governor Kevin Stitt is expecting this to be the largest single-day commutation in U.S. history.
"Today, we are implementing the will of the people. I truly believe that,” Stitt said on Friday.
It started back in 2017 when Oklahoma voters approved SQ 780, making simple drug possession a misdemeanor and giving offenders who are already serving felony time for those crimes a chance at freedom.
The bipartisan effort to pass HB 1269 this past legislative session is now making that chance a reality.
"There were so many different pieces of policy coming in and on this, we all could sit together at the table and say this matters,” Rep. Jason Dunnington (D), a co-author for HB 1269, said.
"I'm excited. After doing the numbers, I will tell you at the end of the day, Oklahoma is no longer No. 1 in the nation in incarceration,” Rep. Jon Echols (R), co-author for HB 1269, said.
The state is expected to save $11.9 million in average prison costs once the inmates are released.
“This group of nonviolent offenders are just a part of this story; by the end of this year, we are anticipating having over 2,000 empty beds in our system,” Governor Stitt said.
Governor Stitt said his team will be working hard Friday to get all of the paperwork done so those 469 inmates can be released on Monday.
“These are real lives, real people with real families and with real friends, and they get to go home,” Echols said.