Sentencing Reform in Oklahoma

TAFT, Okla. — Julie Faircloth walked out of an Oklahoma prison near the head of a line of nearly 70 women who were freed on Monday, as part of one of the largest single-day releases of prisoners in the nation’s history.

They were greeted by screams of joy from relatives who had gathered outside the prison, a minimum-security facility southeast of Tulsa. Hugging first her mother, then her husband, Ms. Faircloth, 28, said she was overwhelmed. “I can’t even put words to it,” she said.

Across Oklahoma on Monday, 462 inmates doing time for drug possession or similar nonviolent crimes had their sentences commuted as the first step in an effort by state officials to shed the title of the nation’s incarceration capital.

 

Voters forced the hand of Oklahoma lawmakers in 2016 when, by a wide margin, they approved a plan to shrink prison rolls by downgrading many felonies to misdemeanors, including simple drug possession and minor property crimes.

Nearly 500 Prisoners Freed on a Single Day
Oklahoma has one of the nation’s highest incarceration rates, but a law downgrading minor crimes is the first step in an effort to change that.
Kristi Eaton and Richard A. Oppel Jr.
NY Times