Early release program helps offenders

TULSA - It's been more than one month since legislation changes allow Oklahoma's non-violent inmates to be released early from prison.

On Nov. 1, 32 non-violent inmates were released from Tulsa County from and from facilities across the state.

"I couldn't believe it at first. They said I could get out, I'm eligible for an ankle monitor," said parolee Matthew Clark. "I'm nervous, and excited. I don't know what to do right now."

Clark served 28 months out of a ten year sentence after being convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sale.

Clark was eligible for an early release once the new law was in effect.

"The numbers we initially thought were going to be out, haven't really materialized," said parole officer Jeff McLaughlin.

There are now about 110 non-violent inmates in Tulsa County, Department of Correction officials say.

DOC officials say there have not been any major violations since releasing more non-violent inmates. However, they are seeing more unemployment issues. One requirement as part of the early-release is to have a job.

"There's a risk they are going to violates rules," said McLaughlin. "There's a risk they are going to violate the law again. I think this is a calculated risk, i think over all our statistics prove its successful."

Clark says he's stayed away from the same temptations while in prison as what got him there in the first place. He said having a GPS ankle monitor will hold him more accountable than being let out just on parole.

"I think I learned my lesson being in there for so long," Clark said. "It's not worth it. I have a family out there, they want me to do right."

Print this article Back to Top