State Pardon & Parole Board under fire

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla - The state Pardon and Parole Board will hold a special meeting on Friday to take a closer look at it's policies and procedures. The meeting is in response to accusations that board members illegally considered inmates for early release and violated the Open Meetings Act.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater sent a nine page letter to the Director of the board, accusing it's members of allowing inmates, many of whom are in prison for violent crimes such as rape, murder and robbery, to be considered for early release long before they had completed the required 85 percent of the sentences.

Tulsa County District Attorney tells 2NEWS that his office shares Prater's concerns.

"We've heard evidence that the pardon and parole board, with their commutation docket have taken 85 percent cases and commuted some of those cases. Eighty-five percent crimes - does that really mean 85 percent as the jury instructions instruct juries? That is yet to be determined and closed," Harris said. "We are following that with great interest.

Prater says the board took action in the case of 51 inmates during "Docket Modification" agenda items. He says these items never appear in any public meeting agendas.

In response, The Pardon and Parole Board released this statement:

"While the board believes it has has both statutory and constitutional authority to bring offenders up for early consideration, to ensure the board process remains open and transparent, the Chairperson will place a moratorium on the early consideration process. In addition, the agency will request an Attorney General's opinion regarding the 85 percent law and the authority to place offenders on the docket for early consideration."

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