OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended almost all 23 applicants being assisted by Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform receive commuted sentences from the governor.
The board recommended commutation for 22 out of 23 applicants. These applicants, all of whom would face lesser or no prison time if sentenced today, will be forwarded to Gov. Mary Fallin, who will decide if their sentences should be commuted.
“It’s thrilling to see the Pardon and Parole Board agree overwhelmingly with Oklahoma voters’ strong belief that lengthy prison sentences for low-level drug offenses are unnecessary and unjust,” said Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform Chief of Staff John Estus. “We urge Gov. Fallin to commute the sentences of the individuals approved today to time served and allow them to return home in time to be with their families for Thanksgiving.”
The 22 applications recommended by the Pardon and Parole Board for commutation Wednesday are part of 31 overall cases under review for excessive and unjust sentences. These individuals’ sentences are grossly out of step with voter approved reforms (SQ 780/781) passed in 2016 and legislative reforms passed earlier this year.
“The board’s actions and the outpouring of public support for this campaign send a clear message to elected leaders to keep reforming Oklahoma’s criminal justice system. There are still more than a thousand people in prison today for simple drug possession,” Estus said. “We need legislation to make recent reforms retroactive and give those Oklahomans an opportunity to return home to their families and become tax-paying citizens.”
Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform will continue to advocate for smart-on-crime policies and push for all levels of legislative and state leadership to support smart criminal justice policies. On Dec. 12, the Pardon and Parole Board will have the opportunity to commute the sentences of an additional eight applicants. The Governor has 90 days in which to approve or deny a commutation.
“Gov. Fallin has championed criminal justice reform in this state, and sending these Oklahomans home for the holidays would be a powerful bookend to her work on this critical issue,” Estus said.
The following are the inmates recommended to have their sentences commuted:
Kayla Jo Jeffries, Delaware County
Gina Wheeler, Cleveland County
Jennifer Clark, Stephens County
Johnna Davidson, Garfield County
Colleen Johnson, Delaware County
Pamela Belk, Delaware County
Teresa Danley, Ottawa County
Wanda Lee, Seminole County
Krystel Phillips, Pottawatomie County
Bonita Buffalohead, Caddo County
Jamie Burke, McIntosh County
Louisa Charcoal, Caddo County
Olivia Harjo, Pontotoc County
Lauren Mitchell, Garfield County
Juanita Peralta, Pontotoc County
Alexis Rains, Oklahoma County
Tracy Smallwood, Oklahoma County
Katara Wheeler, Okmulgee County
Felicia Witherspoon, Muskogee County
Sharron Willis, Muskogee County
Peyton Quillin, Grady County
William Bensley, Craig County