State Sets 450 Inmates Free

Emotional reunions with families and friends follow in Oklahoma
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2019 6:45 PM CST
Oklahoma Opens Prison Gates in a Fresh Start for 450 Inmates
Oklahoma inmates being released from the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center walk out Monday in Taft.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

"Let's make it so you guys do not come back here again." With that, Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board freed at least 462 inmates on Monday, the nation's largest one-day commutation ever. The governor addressed about 70 of the nonviolent offenders and their families in a tent as they were released from a women's prison in Taft, hugging family members and friends waiting for them, NBC reports. "We really want you to have a successful future," Stitt told them to applause. "This is the first day of the rest of your life." Another 65 inmates will be released later, per CNN, as part of the plan to cut prison populations and help low-level convicts establish independence and what Stitt called "better outcomes in life."

State officials promised to help with their transition, including providing each with a driver's license or state-issued identification card. The Department of Corrections has held 28 "transition fairs," involving state agencies and community and nonprofit partners, which it said helped hundreds of inmates line up services they'll need. The inmates were freed an average of 1.34 years early, which the state said will save it about $11.9 million. "These are real lives — real people with real families and with real friends — and they get to go home," a state legislator said when the commutations were approved Friday. (More prison sentence stories.)

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