Oklahoma’s First Lady backs bill to stop incarceration cycle

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR – It was an amazing sight as hundreds of inmates were released from prison in November after Governor Kevin Stitt signed the largest commutation in state history. 

On that day, former prisoners were reunited with friends, family and loved ones.

Oklahoma’s First Lady Sarah Stitt was also there that day.

“What I saw was an exciting, really heart-rendering, and really heart-moving day and we did want it to be the day. We wanted it to extend for the future in Oklahoma,” said Stitt.

The First Lady says the tearful reunions outside the prison gates touched her deeply.

“That would be one of the most moving experiences of my life,” said Sarah Stitt.

On Wednesday, she was at the Oklahoma State Capitol to make sure former inmates have a better chance to succeed once they get out into the real world.

House Bill 3113 was introduced on the House floor and it was promptly renamed the “Sarah Stitt Act” in the First Lady’s honor.

“It will allow people to go out and get a job after release, which is crucial to reducing recidivism,” said Rep. Brian Hill, (R)- Mustang, the bill’s author.

He says his bill mandates that money, transportation, and clothing be issued to the prisoner upon release. It also makes sure the inmates get certificates for any vocational training they completed in prison.

“We have to make sure that on that day, someone is prepared to go out and get meaningful employment,” said Hill

The bill also makes sure inmates get Social Security cards, State IDs, and the opportunity to create a resume and complete a practice job interview.

Stitt says that is the key to breaking the cycle of incarceration.

“It won’t just be these being released, it will be their children, and their children and that’s where we are really putting a stake in the ground and saying, ‘We are not going to do this anymore,’” said Stitt.

The bill passed the House unanimously 96-0.

“This is something that everyone is getting on board with because they know this is the right decision,” said Stitt.

The bill now moves over to the Senate for a vote.

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