OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Fifteen women at Kate Barnard Correctional Center joined the hundreds of non-violent inmates who were released Monday morning following a historic vote by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
On Monday morning, hundreds of inmates were released from prison as part of what could be the largest single-day commutation in U.S. history. In all, officials say 462 inmates were expected to be released by the end of the day.
This comes after a historic vote Friday by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, who recommended a total of 527 inmates on the HB 1269 docket for commutation.
“I’m very happy that my mom’s getting a second chance because she deserves it,” Ivy Fox-Lemus told News 4.
That second chance started with a big hug and tears of joy for Fox-Lemus and her mom, Lana Lemus, as they were reunited for the first time in three years outside Kate Barnard Correctional Center on Monday.
“If there’s anybody out there like me, it’s not worth it. Drugs are not worth it. This right here, this beautiful baby, is worth it right here because I can’t make up for the time that I’ve lost,” Lana Lemus said.
Lemus was incarcerated for simple drug possession, which is no longer considered a felony following a series of criminal justice reforms that passed in 2016.
Now, Lemus is leaving Kate Barnard and is finally going home, along with Leigh Silverhorn.
“I’d just been in six months and then they passed this law,” Silverhorn said.
Silverhorn is talking about SQ 780, which was retroactively applied to cases following HB 1269, saving Silverhorn nine years in prison.
“I’m outta here! Thank God for it. This is a chance at a new life,” Lori Long, another Kate Barnard inmate, cheered as she was released on Monday.
Others, like Lemus and her daughter, left Kate Barnard with a big thank you for Governor Kevin Stitt, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board and the people of Oklahoma for making criminal justice reform a priority.
“Thank you. Thank you for making a change in our lives,” Lemus said.
“And I’d say thank you for giving me my mom back,” Fox-Lemus said.