Early Release Credits for Violent Inmates Now Official

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HOMINY – The Oklahoma Board of Corrections unanimously approved Thursday a measure that would allow violent inmates to accrue early-release credits, officially implementing a policy put forth by Gov. Mary Fallin.

Under state law, 22 crimes require that offenders serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before being released.

Crimes such as first-degree murder, rape and lewd molestation are considered 85-percent crimes, but the list also includes aggravated drug trafficking, first-degree burglary and some forms of assault and battery.

However, those serving time for so-called “85 percent crimes” have not been allowed to accrue early-release credits until after serving the 85 percent of their sentence.

In July, Fallin issued a memorandum stating that past interpretations of the law that prevented inmates serving time for 85 percent crimes from receiving early-release credits during that time were incorrect. Oklahoma Watch covered the story.

The memo directed the board to adopt a policy allowing for early-release time to accrue while the inmate serves the 85 percent. Steve Mullins, Fallin’s general counsel, said it would help reduce prison sentence length and save the state around $2.3 million over 18 months.

Around 8,000 prisoners in the Oklahoma prison system are serving time under the 85 percent sentencing law, and Mullins estimated around 6,000 prisoners would be affected by the change.

In other business at Thursday’s meeting, the board approved amendments to two of its private prison contracts, increasing the number of beds available to the state by 222.

The amendments will make 52 additional medium-security beds at Davis Correctional Facility and 70 additional medium-security beds at Cimarron Correctional Facility, both owned by Corrections Corp. of America, available to the Department of Corrections. In addition, the amendments allow for an increase of 22 medium-security and 75 maximum-security beds available to the department at the Geo Group facility in Lawton.

There currently are no maximum-security prisoners at the Lawton facility, said department spokeswoman Terri Watkins, but a new maximum-security unit was recently constructed there.

Use of the newly available beds is dependent on availability of funds, Watkins said.

The increase in private prison bed space is part of a larger effort to address an anticipated increase of 1,2000 inmates over the next year, said Board of Corrections member Mike Roach, who chairs the board’s population and private prisons committee.

In addition to acquiring the new beds, department officials have also installed temporary beds in some facilities, increased the number of inmates who are in programs that facilitate early release, increased the number of halfway house beds available, and begun a pre-reception pilot program with the Oklahoma County Jail.

Thus far, Roach said, the effort has addressed around 70 percent of the expected increase in male prisoners and fully addressed the expected increase in female prisoners.

  • Latonia Hunter

    So what about the lifers and life w/o inmates that has served over 15 years or more. something needs to be done about that also. Those are the ones that will not re-offend. They want a second chance also. You have so many in prison that was sentenced with a life w/o and its their first offense or they were under the age of 18. Its just not fair at all. Please consider looking into this. This will save the state alot of money as well. There is also alot of life w/o inmates that has been wrongfully convicted that needs to be looked at too. We just want some action on this because something has to give.

  • Tasha

    Does anyone know if this is retroactive????

  • Laughing Hombre

    I love how they couch this as an “officer safety” issue to get it by the morons on the board. Yeah… if they are such a threat to corrections officers lets go ahead and release them…

    Most of the people (excluding assault charge inmates) affected by this have the lowest rate of violence against prison officials and the lowest recidivism rate after release. DOC needs to stop trying to be such hard assess and realize that pourpousfuly trying to impose additional punishments above and beyond the courts on people just because they deem their charges distasteful to public morality, they only further undermine the rule of law as well as am inmates prospects of rehabilitation.

    And yes this is retroactive for inmates that have kept a level above 1 and reached their 85%.

    • Dwight

      I served time on 85% and it does change the attitude in prison a bit. Think about it like this if I do my 85% regardless of my actions then when a guard asks me to go work in the kitchen or sweep the floor etc. why would I say yes, in the end I do exactly my time and go home. In general most people are decent people and comply but in general it always better to have incentives and goals for inmates.

    • Gail

      Do you have any idea how many years a person doing life on 85% will need to do before being eligible for early release?

  • Brenda baker

    My son is in a halfway house Bridgeway he’s up for parole in Dec is there a chance he could get out early he is in for Demestic violence

    • Laughing Hombre

      There are a lot of unknowns wich make it hard to answer.

      Assuming they are going 100% retroactive for the whole sentence like they have indicated then you have to figure out if he has been “good” during incarnation and maintained a level above 1.

      At that point you should calculate what 85% of the total sentence is to estimate when they get out.

      For example if he is in on a 10, then he has to do 8.5 years, on a 5 its 4 years 1 month, etc…

  • Brenda

    What about the NONE Violent Inmates Whos serving more time then the Violent inmates . Give them a chance to to go to rehab ,,,,, The ones who got DUI needs Rehab not prison.

    • Dwight

      They already get “days/good time and in many cases extra days. So like a 15 year sentence is like 6 years on them. This law literally only changes the violents time by like a few months because they still must serve the 85%. So to put it another way a violent actually serves 85% then is switched to non violent and begins earning days so he didn’t get released at 85% he just gets incentives. Now it would be he basically has accrued his incitives over the whole time but gets to use them once he hits 85% so basically is done at that time.

  • Estella Aguilar

    My kids father is a non violent imates with drug charges of trafficking for marijuana. Arrested in Oklahoma 1994 did 9 years then released. Then caught again in South Carolina did another 10 years. Before getting released from he was picked up from SC and transferred back to Oklahoma for violating his parole conditions but served his time for SC. Would he qualify for this early release in Oklahoma??????
    His release date is 2023 my son is really sick may not be able to live that long. What can I do to get this information who do I call???? Help
    We’re having family crisis.
    Cannabis is now bein legal all over the states and thier releasing drug offender with non violent crimes.
    How could they let go child molesters and not these people that have marijuana charges.?

  • I need guidance on someone I can contact about an inmate who needs medical attention now. Nothing is being done if anyone knows who o can contact I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you

    • cheryl

      Call department of corrections in OKC and tell them you need to speak to who ever is over the facility he is in

  • My fiance is to be released in January 2015.why he can’t be released early.Jess Dunn correctional center is severely overcrowded.I am very sick need him home.They need release alot of images at jess Dunn there to over crowed What happened to early realising the govener said was to happen? My fiance should be released vomming home.I have cancer during I won’t have no time with him if I’m still here when he gets out. I pray please let him out Darrell Jarvis. I need him released now from jess Dunn

  • kay

    My son is in cimarron correctional.he got 10 years first offence.hes in on lewd molestion,so does this mean he will get out before first parole hearing in 2020?I was so glad he got busted.i don’t want him out early.this would mean my family is in danger again and I’d have to go back in hiding.hes been in lots of trouble in Texas and they never did anything to him because he has mental issues and he knows how to work that.i was in hiding in Oklahoma when he found me and 1 month later he got arrested there and they actually helped by putting him away,not long enough in my opinion.hes the type that needs put somewhere permanently.state hospital or something.i know I ranted alot,but I don’t want him out.

    • cheryl

      No he will have to do 85 % no matter what changes they make

  • Cristina Brutton

    A family member of mine has served 23 years for none violent crime stolen credit cards to be exact . And it shows he has 50 yrs to go . This is nonsense . Rapist and child abusers get up to 30 most of the time . And that is the most . This is why are prisons are full and are streets and the public aren’t safe . I simply don’t think our justice system is doing a good job .

  • Gail

    If a person is doing a life sentence under the 85% law and has maintained a level 4 which is the highest level. How many years do they have to do? My son is in prison for a crime he didn’t do and he has already done 15 years.
    So how many years is he required to do in Oklahoma on the 85% ?

  • sara

    My husband was at Jackie Brannon he got shipped last month the 31st to be exact..he didn’t get a misconduct or write up but they dropped him from a level 4 to a 1..I don’t belive that Is fair. .he is in the Irish so that is y they shipped him..he was getting out in a few months.now it will be the end of summer he has 600 days left…what can I do to help him get back on..is it rite that they just took him down to a level 1 for just being irish?

  • Malenda Brooks

    There are also non violent drug offenders who cannot get credits until 50% of their sentence is complete. It is stupid to give credits to violent restricted offenders before non violent ones.

  • Myrtis Smith

    Did this pass for the 85%

  • Myrtis Smith

    If this passes will it be for all states or just Oklahoma