CLAREMORE, Okla. (KJRH) – On the heels of the largest single-day of commutations in the nation, an Oklahoma woman is now receiving an in-person pardon from the governor.
Rhonda Bear was released from prison almost 20 years ago, but she has spent the last two decades working to help other women after they were released from prison.
On Thursday, Bear received an in-person pardon from Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Stitt says Bear not only turned her life around but helped dozens of other women like her.
“No matter how bad I wanted to get better, I didn’t have a home, a car or a job. I didn’t have any help to get those things. But once she gave me an opportunity, I have been extremely successful,” Dustie Sikes, who was previously incarcerated and now manages SheBrews, told KJRH.
This week, crowds of people who have been affected by her work gathered to celebrate the pardon.
“Each one of you in this room is just a testament to what she means to her community, to her neighbors and really to the state of Oklahoma. She’s been a true champion,” Stitt said.
Bear says the pardon is a sign of hope and should show that people can become better versions of themselves if given a second chance.
“I just want them to be encouraged to not quit, things are hard. Coming out of prison and starting over is hard,” Bear said.
Bear says she is already looking to the future and is working with Sen. Kevin Matthews to change the law so that whenever a person is pardoned, their record gets expunged as well.