The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board is set to ease up on its recent approach to commutations, at least temporarily.
With more than 2,700 pending applications, the agency had scheduled monthly dockets with 425 cases through March 2021, but board members would like to see dockets in the 150-case range for a couple of months after potential issues came to light.
Concerns include district attorney notifications not being made, misconduct reports not coming over from the Department of Corrections and information like past convictions missing from files.
"I just think there’s a lot of problems with the way we’ve been doing our commutation docket, just driving up the numbers and we’ve sacrificed accuracy. I’d like to see some slowdown of that until we get our process brought back up to where it’s accurate," said board member Allen McCall.
Board member Adam Luck, serving as chair during the medical absence of Robert Gilliland, proposed trimming dockets down for a month or two until they could see how things were going.
The agency’s 11 field investigators have done more than 1,900 reviews since January. Parole Board Field Investigator Leroy Long said those reviews have only become harder during the COVID-19 pandemic, as prisons have limited their access to one day a week or locked down entirely in some instances.
Long said that’s led to a lot of things being done by phone or by sending parole questionnaires to be filled out and returned.
"That’s where some of the communication problems of getting paperwork back is, is because due to COVID and getting everything back to us," Long said.
The Pardon and Parole Board is looking to hire more investigators.