Grand jury to probe state parole board, Oklahoma County jail
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma County judge has agreed to convene a grand jury to investigate potential wrongdoing by the state’s Pardon and Parole Board and conditions at the Oklahoma County jail.
Presiding Judge Ray Elliott agreed Wednesday to the request by District Attorney David Prater, The Oklahoman reported.
The grand jury was given the power to issue subpoenas, investigate and charge by indictment, and make accusations for removal. Jury selection was set for Oct. 18.
Gov. Kevin Stitt called Prater’s request “the latest political stunt to intimidate the Pardon and Parole Board and obstruct the Constitutional process as high-profile cases that his office prosecuted are being considered.”
The Pardon and Parole Board is set to conduct a clemency hearing Oct. 26 for high-profile death row inmate Julius Jones. Prater has strongly opposed Jones’ clemency request and has alleged that some members of the board have conflicts of interest that should result in their removal.
In his grand jury application Wednesday, the district attorney told the judge there are “credible allegations that involve official corruption and/or official neglect ... committed by State and/or County officials,” the newspaper reported.
Testimony will be taken in closed proceedings at the Oklahoma attorney general’s office.
Prater called for an investigation of the Oklahoma County Detention Center because of the poor living and unsafe conditions there uncovered by health inspectors. He called for an investigation of the parole board because inmates have been released from prison by mistake.
The convening of a county grand jury has become rare in Oklahoma because prosecutors rely on the state’s multicounty grand jury for help with investigations.
The county grand jury could bring removal accusations against the jail administrator, jail trustees and parole board members, according to the application.
“Such persons also may be subject to criminal penalties,” Prater wrote.