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Oklahoma parole board wraps December meeting

Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board members Scott Williams, Kelly Doyle, Adam Luck and Richard Smothermon
Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board members Scott Williams, Kelly Doyle, Adam Luck, Larry Morris and Richard Smothermon

After three days, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board finished its December meeting Wednesday.

The board heard from people seeking pardons, including Tulsa social worker Heather Sisson.

After being sentenced to four years in prison on drug charges, Sisson has become a licensed master social worker and helps adults in crisis. Her accomplishments drew positive remarks.

“It took a lot of work but I did it, and I’m thankful for where I’m at today. I like to try to make a difference in my community,” said Sisson.

A pardon was unanimously suggested for Sisson.

At one point in the parole docket proceedings, board member Kelly Doyle pointed out that District Attorney Jason Hicks’ office apparently suggested against parole for every person up for it in Grady, Caddo, and Stephens counties. She asked Hicks’ representative for more clarity.

“Your district can have its own policies on parole and I certainly understand that,” said Doyle. “I personally would appreciate a bit more discernment from DAs. It’s a lot more helpful in making these difficult decisions. I just wanted to express that.”

A late afternoon phone call to Hicks’ office for comment wasn’t answered.

Serious offenders like James Lewis also spoke to the board.

Lewis was 14 in 1988 when he killed 50-year-old Theresa Timmons in her Muskogee home. Lewis was tried as an adult and sentenced to life in prison.

Lewis has completed a variety of treatment programs while incarcerated. Board member Adam Luck said those efforts and Lewis’ young age swayed him to vote for parole.

Larry Morris also remarked on the childhood abuse reported by Lewis.

The board voted 3-2 for parole, with Morris joining Luck and Doyle in favor. Richard Smothermon and Scott Williams voted to deny.

Lewis probably won’t see freedom anytime soon, however. He’s being paroled to another 20 year sentence.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.