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Parole revocation is on the rise in Oklahoma

There’s been a recent uptick in parole revocations in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board had 14 such cases last month.

"In March 2020, after having several months with no revocation hearings, that was the amount of hearings that it took just to get caught up for the previous, I believe, five months, and that's how many we're seeing every month now," General Counsel Kyle Counts told the board on Monday.

Counts said many of the new revocation cases are from administrative parole, a streamlined process that lets some nonviolent offenders be released without hearings before the board. Counts, however, told the board that increase seems to match increased use of the process.

More revocation cases are expected this month, and the agency is trying to get an administrative law judge assigned to help process them. Counts said some cases involve a person committing another crime, but many have simply been the person absconding, especially during the pandemic.

"You know, people struggling to find work and then they just lose touch with their parole officer, that sort of thing is definitely tied to the pandemic, but as far as administratively or staff at DOC, I don't think it's connected to that," Counts said.

Still, board members want to see if something needs to change.

"Do we need to look at the process when they're getting out? Are they getting revoked — is it 90 days? So maybe we need to look at, DOC or whoever needs to look at a 30-, 60- and 90-day touch point procedure ," said board member Scott Williams, a minister and former prison warden. "Because if it's 30 days they had a touch point and they're out of touch, you would know then. That may be before they'd be revoked."

Oklahoma’s administrative parole process was created by legislation in 2018 and first used in 2019.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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