More than 462 men and women walked free from Oklahoma state prisons on Monday after being released in what the governor’s office is calling the “largest single-day commutation in U.S. history.”
According to a press release from the state, events started unfolding on Friday, when the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted unanimously to commute the sentence of 527 incarcerated people in the state. However, 65 of those recommended have detainers, thus 462 were scheduled to be released on Monday.
“This is a historical day for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma, as we send the largest single-day commutation of sentences in our nation’s history to the governor’s desk,” Steven Bickley, Executive Director of the Pardon and Parole Board said according to the press release. “With this vote, we are fulfilling the will of Oklahomans. However, from day one, the goal of this project has been more than just the release of low level, non-violent offenders, but the successful reentry of these individuals back into society.”
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, has been a strong advocate for criminal justice and prison reform, as NBC News notes, wanting to reduce the prison population. Oklahoma is known for having the highest incarceration rate in the country.
“This marks an important milestone of Oklahomans wanting to focus the state’s efforts on helping those with nonviolent offenses achieve better outcomes in life,” Stitt said in a statement Monday.