Officials: Mass Oklahoma inmate release is nation's largest - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Officials: Mass Oklahoma inmate release is nation's largest

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The Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown, Oklahoma. (File/KTEN) The Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown, Oklahoma. (File/KTEN)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma will release more than 400 inmates after a state panel approved what they say is the largest single-day mass commutation in U.S. history.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board unanimously approved the commutations Friday, and Gov. Kevin Stitt said his office would process the recommendations for final approval. The 462 inmates are expected to leave prison Monday.

"I applaud the Pardon and Parole Board’s dedication to fulfill the will of the people through the HB 1269 docket, giving hundreds of non-violent, low-level offenders an opportunity at a second chance," Stitt said in a written statement.

It's estimated that the early release program will save Oklahoma nearly $12 million.

Oklahoma voters approved a state question in 2016 that made simple drug possession and low-level property crimes misdemeanors instead of felonies. A bill approved earlier this year and signed by Stitt applied those sentences retroactively.

"This is a completely new day for the people granted their freedom," said House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) in a written statement.  "Oklahoma is going to continue to take smart, practical steps like this one to further reduce our incarceration rate in a responsible manner."

The agency's executive director Steve Bickley says the mass release is the most on one day since former President Barack Obama commuted the drug sentences of 330 federal prisoners on his last day in office.

KTEN.com editor Walt Zwirko contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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