Bill that would allow violent offenders to get parole fails in committee

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Several family members flooded the State Capitol on Monday, hoping their loved ones would be given a second chance.

“I feel like they’ve paid for their crime,” said Vickie Welch, whose two brothers are serving life in prison.

"My husband is in prison.  He’s been in prison since he was 18-years-old,” said Joyce Dickerson.

OK-CURE, Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, rallied at the Capitol on Monday in support of Senate Bill 1035.

“He has been in 20 years.  He’s never had a write up,” said Risa Ewalt about her son who is in prison.

“What we were asking for is a second chance for people that have done, gotten long sentences, lifers,” said Lynn Powell, with OK-CURE.

The bill concerned lifers who have only committed one violent act, have been in prison for a long time and have good conduct records.

Proponents of the bill said it could be part of the answer to the state’s budget crunch and the prison overcrowding problem.

“The older inmates are also the most costly because of health issues.  If they were to release these people, have them on supervised parole, it would be a lot less for the state to pay,” said Powell.

The bill, though, did not make it out of committee.

Powell says Sen. Anthony Sykes refused to hear it in committee.

“We did do a call to action and asked people to contact Anthony Sykes’ office and at least ask him to hear the bill so it could make it to the floor to be voted on the floor there,” said Powell.

Despite the setback, the families at the rally said the fight does not end here.

“We’ll never stop,” said Ewalt.

We contacted Senator Sykes’ office to find out why he killed the bill in committee, but did not hear back.

Backers of the bill say they will work to find another senator or representative to possibly put the language into another bill.

If not, they’ll work to get it passed next session.

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