Pardon and Parole Board Director Says Agency is Working Through Commutation Backlog

Nov 2, 2020

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State parole investigators have finished reviewing 1,800 commutation applications from a backlog of around 3,000, according to an executive director's report given to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Monday.

The backlog accumulated while the board considered smaller dockets the past few months, partly because of concerns the review process wasn’t giving prosecutors adequate notice. Pardon and Parole Executive Director Tom Bates said 816 applications are now ready for the board’s consideration, but investigators' recently completed reviews found almost 500 applications were from applicants set to be discharged in the next 90 to 180 days, and almost 300 were from applicants denied in the past three years.

"There was some other minor issues like missing a signature, missing one or more sentences. We’re not really going to hold feet to the fire on those types of issues, but those that are about to discharge and denied within the last three years — I mean, those are two big categories that we’re going to have to deal with," Bates said.

Bates on Monday proposed getting through the backlog next year.

"Perhaps special meetings for stage one commutations only in March and in May to get through all of these that are out there," Bates said.

The other 1,200 or so backlogged applications have been sent to parole investigators. They’ve had difficulty completing their reviews with prisons going on lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.