Pardon And Parole Board Can't Act On Its Own To Reconsider Majority Of Cases That Ended In Tie Votes

Aug 9, 2021

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Monday learned what it can do in dozens of cases from December through March that ended in denials because of tie votes.

The typically five-member board was down to four after former Chair Robert Gilliland resigned in mid-December, and around 300 cases ended in ties. Those are considered denials under current policies.

Agency general counsel Kyle Counts told the board the 130 commutation requests that got 2–2 votes have to wait three years under current policies.

"We would need a request from the governor to reconsider those short of the three years unless there was a change in the law related to the sentences," Counts said.

Around 100 people convicted of violent felonies whose parole hearings came up in December, January and March must also wait three years to reapply. Counts said the board does have power to act when it comes to 50 to 60 parole applications in nonviolent felonies.

"If the board wanted to hold a vote to essentially reconsider that whole cast of inmates, then we could do that. The same investigative report would be used because of the short timeframe," Counts said.

The board can also vote to reconsider three pardon applications it received while shorthanded.

"So, we have been talking about this for quite some time, trying to figure out how we could go back and have these cases be reviewed by a full board. So, my request for the board members would be to just review this and then prepared to vote on whether or not to reconsider these cases next month," said Chair Adam Luck.

Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed Scott Williams to the pardon and parole board in mid-March. Weather forced the board to cancel its February meeting.