OKLAHOMA - Anny Wadkins spent nine years in prison on drug charges.
While she was officially released from prison almost a decade ago, she was still a prisoner to her $50,000 fine.
“At the hundred dollars a month that I was required to pay, I was going to be approximately 84 years old before I got it paid off,” Wadkins said.
“It can create hopelessness. That isn’t the point of the system,” said Senator AJ Griffin.
Griffin said that’s why she was an author on House Bill 3160, signed into law last year.
It allows judges to reduce or eliminate criminal defendants’ fines after they’ve served their sentence.
“We’re trying to get people back on their feet, back productive, paying taxes, paying into the system and caring for their families,” Griffin said.
And, Wadkins gets to experience this first-hand.
“I had been, for a while, working two part-time jobs along with my full-time to try to make ends meet,” Wadkins said.
$7,700 into paying off her $50,000, a judge dismissed her fine.
“I feel like I don’t have to worry so much about my future,” Wadkins said.
“This was a felon that’s turned into a taxpayer, which is what we all want,” Griffin said.
Griffin found out about the success story when Wadkins’ mother sent her an e-mail, saying “I feel like this bill is the miracle answer to prayer.”
“That was probably the best feeling I’ve had in most of my life. That was as good as the day I was released,” Wadkins said.
Wadkins said she will never forget the person she was when she went into the system and the elimination of this fine will help her in her endeavor to stay a productive member of society.
Griffin said this law gives judges total discretion and it can be a way to reward people who have been faithfully paying their fines and are doing everything right.