Parole board votes to consider commutations for some inmates

Wednesday, July 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LEXINGTON, Okla. (AP) _ The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board will consider possible commutation for prison inmates convicted of various property crimes.

The board voted on Tuesday to give special consideration to the prisoners, whose crimes were committed before passage of a law in 2001 that increased the felony minimum for bogus checks and property theft from $50 to $500.

Board members agreed to hear the cases beginning as early as September. They met in Lexington for their regular monthly meeting.

The Oklahoma Legislature last year passed the law raising the felony standard. It went into effect July 1, 2001.

Lawmakers did not make the measure retroactive, said Pat Morgan, Pardon and Parole Board member.

So some people were sentenced to prison terms for crimes that are now considered misdemeanors, Terry Jenks, the board's executive director, said in a story in the Tulsa World.

Lawmakers directed the Pardon and Parole Board to look at the issue, Jenks said.

Pardon and Parole Board staff have already determined about 250 inmates are eligible for consideration, Jenks said.

The 250 inmates came from a list of just more than 1,000, said J.D. Daniels, deputy director.

Additional information on the remaining inmates is being sought, Jenks said. Staffers could send requests to prosecutors for additional information regarding the amount involved in the crime, he said.

``If people are in prison and we don't think they belong there, we should expedite getting them out,'' Morgan said.

``Let's do what we can as soon as we can.''

If a sentence is commuted, no supervision of the inmate would be required, Jenks said.