The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted to recommend special medical parole for 12 inmates determined to be at elevated risk from the coronavirus pandemic.
At a virtual meeting of the board on Wednesday morning, Steven Bickley, the body's executive director, explained how the specific inmates ended up on the docket.
"The agency received a letter from [Oklahoma Department of Corrections] Director [Scott] Crow on Friday, May 1st, recommending 14 inmates for medical parole," Bickley said. "That is authorized by him under statute."
The DOC said it identified at least 126 inmates whose medical issues would put them particularly at risk from the pandemic, but that number was reduced to 14 recommendations to the parole board after removing inmates serving time for violent crimes, sex crimes, and other categories.
Of the 14 inmates recommended for medical parole, one had already received parole, and the other waived his right to be considered for parole due to his scheduled release date being imminent.
The board voted to recommend all 12 inmates for medical parole. Eleven of the votes were unanimous; the sole dissenting vote on Wednesday came from board member and retired judge Allen McCall.
"The dealbreaker for me is the 300 grams of methamphetamine" involved in that inmate's case, McCall said. "To me, that outweighs his medical condition." (With a vote of 4-1, the inmate still received the recommendation for medical parole.)
Bickley said that some public health measures that are merely suggestions for the general public in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic will be strict requirements for parolees. Inmates granted medical parole will be required to wear a mask in public at all times for 60 days, to follow any "Safer at Home" guidance issued by Governor Kevin Stitt, and to avoid crowds and large gatherings, among other measures.