DA: New Inmate Clemency Law in Need of Fine-Tuning ; the Law Removed the Governor from the Parole Process

Article excerpt

A Cleveland County prosecutor is looking for legislative support to limit the impact of a state question approved by voters last month.

State Question 762 removed the governor from the parole consideration process for prisoners convicted of nonviolent crimes.

Voters approved the measure 745,133 to 514,088, despite opposition from prosecutors.

The new law created by SQ 762 allows the state Pardon and Parole board to grant clemency directly to inmates serving sentences for nonviolent crimes. Previously, all paroles required recommendation from the board and approval by the governor.

Before passage of the question, Oklahoma was the only state that sent every parole to the governor for consideration.

By eliminating the delay between parole board recommendation and gubernatorial approval, a legislative analysis estimated the state would save $3.3 million a year - money, lawmakers said, that could be used for public safety.

But Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said the issue needs fine-tuning almost immediately.

Mashburn said he isn't second-guessing the decision of the voters but thinks their approval of SQ 762 may have been more of a "conceptual" than detailed.

"I don't think (the voters) realized what was at stake and what kind of offenders would automatically qualify for this," he said. "I think it's now incumbent on the Legislature to say: 'Whoa! …