OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt is commuting prison sentences for more than 450 inmates to decrease prison overcrowding and reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in prisons.
“We’ve been working diligently with the Pardon and Parole Board to safely reduce the prison population amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stitt said. “In these unprecedented times, we must take action while safeguarding our Department of Corrections staff, inmate population and the public.”
Inmates will be released on April 16 after their paperwork is processed by the Department of Corrections, according to a news release issued by Stitt’s office.
The commutation plan is as follows:
- 452 approved for commutation
- 404 approved to time served and will be released on 4/16/20
March 1269 Commutation Docket (371 total)
- 349 offenders from the drug possession docket
- 22 offenders from the property docket
- 361 commuted to time served
- 10 commuted to 1 year
December Commutation Docket (81 total)
- 81 approved for commutation
- 43 commuted to time served
Stitt’s office is also addressing the COVID-19 threat to prison communities by recommending that inmates self-quarantine for 14 days if they’re coming from a facility with a known case, according to the news release.
“The Department of Health is also working with the Department of Corrections to provide COVID-19 tests to anyone who needs one,” the news release states.
Also on Friday, It Stops Here Oklahoma, a nonprofit dedicated to prison reform, announced that attorneys have filed a proposed amended petition in a pending lawsuit to protect the constitutional rights of inmates in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are 24,562 Oklahoma inmates that do not have fair access to sanitization supplies or the ability to social distance to slow the spread of coronavirus inside of Oklahoma’s overcrowded prison system that is ranked #2 in the world in incarceration,” a news release issued from It Stops Here Oklahoma, a nonprofit dedicated to prison reform, states,” an It Stops Here Oklahoma news release states.
Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections ordered all Oklahoma prisons to secure inmates in their cells while allowing access to necessary services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The modification was basked on “protecting the health of inmates and staff, not for disciplinary reasons,” an ODOC news release said.
ODOC officials said facility staff will deliver food, medicine and any other necessities to inmates to limit group gatherings and enhance social distancing.
This is a developing story. Stay with News 4 for further information.