Drunk Driver Wants Oklahoma Sentencing Rule Changed

Friday, March 13th 2009, 9:17 am
By: News On 6

By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9 for News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- An Oklahoma woman serving a 10-year prison sentence for a drunk driving death said she deserves to be released after only a year.

MaeLene Chambers went before an Oklahoma County District Court judge Thursday to plead her case, but she's not only fighting to reduce her sentence, she's trying to change Oklahoma laws.

Chambers is against what's called the "85 Percent Rule," which means certain criminals must serve 85 percent of their sentence before they're eligible for parole. Chambers is fighting to lower that rule but the family whose lives she's turned upside down is determined to fight back.

"It's just like reliving the day over. The worst day of my life, reliving the wreck over, that's hard," said Betty Sharp.

Betty Sharp was married to Joseph Sharp for more than 50 years. Her husband's life came to an end when Chambers slammed her car into them while driving drunk in October of 2006.

Betty's upset because after only serving one year in prison, Chambers is asking a judge to cut her ten-year prison sentence in half because of good behavior.

"I would challenge any lawyer or judge to come forward with someone who has done more while they have been sentenced," Chambers' attorney Billy Bock said.

While in prison, Chambers has spent much of her time researching laws and writing lawmakers. Chambers wants new legislation requiring certain criminals to serve a minimum of only half of their sentence compared to the current 85 percent.

Her efforts may be working. Attorney General Drew Edmondson wrote her back saying "I also agree that these kinds of programs are essential to reducing prison population."

But the thought of Chambers or those like her getting out early has Sharp's family outraged.

"It's not right. If you kill someone, you need to pay for it," Sharp said.

Although the judge denied Chambers' request, she has also received letters from several other state lawmakers who would also consider changing the "85 Percent Rule."