Hundreds Of Convicted Felons Released Under New Oklahoma Law

Friday, October 28th 2011, 6:58 pm

By: News On 6

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A new law goes into effect Tuesday that means hundreds of convicted felons will be let out of prison and put on GPS monitoring bracelets.

Approximately 82 of them will be coming to Tulsa County and the DA calls it a nightmare.

Tim Harris just got the list Friday afternoon and is shocked by some of the people being let go after serving only a few months.

One inmate has 10 prior felony convictions and was just sent to prison in July, but next week he'll be somebody's neighbor.

"Three priors, two priors, three drunk driving convictions - a failure in drug court," said Tulsa County DA Tim Harris, looking at a list of convicted felons.

Harris says several names on the list of 82 being released from prison and sent back to Tulsa County are not people who should be set free.

One is Ronald Miller with at least 10 felony convictions. He's been in and out of prison since 1993, for stolen property, burglary and drugs.

Another inmate, John Dale, has even more than that. Crime after crime going back to 1997, in four different counties.

"Now, did he commit crimes against persons? No. Larceny of an automobile, possession of stolen property, and every other property crime you can think of, drug crimes. He didn't kill or rape a person, but there's still a victim," Harris said.

"Somebody had their car stolen; somebody had their house broken into; somebody had their check used," he said. "There are still victims out there."

The law is designed to get non-violent offenders out of overcrowded prisons. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections can now release people after only 90 days if they were sentenced to five years or less.

Harris says by the time a person gets to prison, they've been given many chances.

"We have drug court; we use alternative sentencing; we put people on probation through deferred and suspended sentencing," Harris said.

"We offer treatment, but sometimes they fail all that and finally on non-violent offenses, the gig is up, and you go to the penitentiary," he said.

The law says Harris has to notify all the victims, which is hard enough with local victims here, but we're getting criminals from other counties too.

"Some of these people have not been convicted in Tulsa - they're out of county, coming to Tulsa for GPS monitoring. There's no way I can notify these victims," he said.

"I don't have the files. I didn't prosecute the case."

The new law was authored by Shawnee Republican Kris Steele. He says releasing non-violent offenders will make us safer, so the prisons can focus on keeping the rapists, robbers and killers locked up.

Read The Law Authored By Steele

The DOC says 90 percent of women on ankle monitors and 86 percent of the men succeed. District attorneys can object to people on the list but can't veto them, because the DOC has the final say.

There were originally 1,500 people on the list statewide, but it's now around 300 or 400. Victims can go to Harris' website and sign up for release notifications.


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