Neal was recently released from prison as part of an early release program in response to the pandemic. ", "Today," he added, "we are implementing the will of the people. The Department of Corrections believes the long-standing practice isn’t legal. State prison officials are reviewing early release for certain, nonviolent inmates who are considered high-risk for COVID-19 complications and those who are already scheduled to be released in 2020. The first 3,500 inmates were freed in April to create space in crowded prisons and 6,900 more were deemed eligible for release in early July, totaling 10,400 releases. Apr 7, 2020. He says prisoners can still earn time off their sentences, just in different ways. Educational programs are one way prisoners earn credits to take time off their sentences. Sixty-five of them will remain in prison because of warrants against them in other cases. One credit is equal to one additional day off a sentence. This is a big deal and this is an exciting time.". THAILAND: Amid the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic and as a way to solve prison overcrowding, the Justice Ministry is … Catch up on the developing stories making headlines. The first 3,500 inmates were freed in April to create space in crowded prisons and 6,900 more were deemed eligible for release in early July. Glen Blake says this will be a hard reality for his clients to face. For decades, Oklahoma law has allowed the Department of Corrections to offer prisoners credits that take time off their sentences in exchange for completing programs such as earning a GED and finishing job training. Oklahoma inmates tense as prisons become COVID-19 hotbeds ... the state board in charge of recommending prisoners for early release is straining against legal restrictions as it … Officials said other inmates … The people of Oklahoma kicked off this process after passing a ballot initiative to change the punishment for non-violent minor drug offenses three years ago. The state said it expects to have around 2,000 empty prison beds by the end of the year. Inmates will continue to have sentences reduced as long as the public health emergency remains in effect. “Seeing that taken away is obviously disappointing,” Glen Blake said. "And that's a pretty special accomplishment. By the end of the day on Friday, Echols said the state was "no longer No. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections posted this picture of some women that will be discharged As part of a new law with ID cards. The agency reached the conclusion after its legal counsel asked the state Attorney General’s Office for help. Catch up on the developing stories making headlines. Early release for prison inmates considered. Leaders from both parties praised the bi-partisan bill on Friday, saying that even in today's political climate both parties could work together on commonsense laws for the people. “If you have a 20-year sentence for trafficking, I mean, and you don’t come up for parole, the difference between getting good conduct achievement credits and not getting good (conduct) achievement credits on a 20-year sentence is six or seven years,” Blake said. The Department of Public Safety released six inmates under these new criteria and is considering about 500 more. (April 17) In April, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt commuted the sentences of over 450 people. Prisoners attend a graduation ceremony at Dick Conner Correctional Center. Of the soon-to-be released inmates, according Oklahoma City ABC affiliate KOCO, the average age is nearly 40, with each having been in prison over the last three years. “There are a lot of programs available to inmates,” Wolf said. A nurse who got vaccinated tested positive for COVID, but that's not unexpected, Thousands of residents without heat after attack on gas service, The Year 2020: Coronavirus becomes largest global health threat in a generation, Nonprofit founder charged with murder after hit-and-run that killed 2 boys: DA, Judge blocks residency challenges to 4,000 Georgia voters. "Recidivism goes way down when we can get people plugged in and working," he said. Oklahoma state prisons are currently at 108 percent capacity. Nationwide, one in five inmates in state and federal facilities has contracted COVID-19. After receiving the letter, the Department of Corrections chose to eliminate the disputed credits. ", Calling Friday's commutation the single largest in U.S. history, Oklahoma Gov. As of December 5 this year about 6,000 inmates have been released from prisons by reducing the total number of inmates to 26,364 from 32,200 since October 12, 2020. Click here to donate online to support our journalism. 1 in the nation in incarceration. He adds that the new policy isn’t retroactive – prisoners who already earned time off for good behavior and for participating in reentry programs before November 1 won’t lose those credits. Early release dates for Oklahoma prisoners just got pushed back The prison population is now projected to grow an additional 3.6% in 2 years. On April 17th, he commuted the sentences of 7 people in Ohio state prisons. They are getting out about 16 months early on average. Michael Washington holds a sign with the number of an inmate who was infected with COVID-19. The Department of Corrections estimates 80% of prisoners who were getting these credits could spend around two additional months in prison for every year of their sentence. Currently, the BOP has ---inmates … The board is scheduled to meet next on November 18. "If we work together the way that we worked on this bill," Democratic state Rep. Jason Dunnington said, "we can accomplish big things. StateImpact Oklahoma reports on energy and the environment, education, health, criminal justice, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. The move could lead to the early release of more than 2,000 inmates, NJ.com reported. A policy that gave Oklahoma prisoners time off their sentences for good behavior and completing reentry programs has been canceled. About 6,500 inmates in California’s prisons were eligible for release under the state’s high-risk medical release program. “I mean, now that I see the Attorney General’s opinion, I understand where it’s coming from,” Blake said. As part of the process of preparing the inmates for life outside prison walls, the state hosted more than two dozen re-entry fairs for prospective early-release prisoners. Some inmates are being granted early release because of coronavirus outbreaks. "We all came together, and worked toward, to conduct a very thorough review process to ensure that those eligible for this commutation were actually in line with what the intent and the will of the people were," Stitt said Friday. Because 65 of the approved inmates had retainers, 462 were released on Monday. The state said more than 900 inmates applied for an early release and that it expects to have around 2,000 empty prison beds by the end of the year. Kevin Stitt said at a press conference that it's "an important step for criminal justice reform in our state. The beginning of a possible system-wide spread. 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