Nation's Largest Prisoner Release to Take Place in Oklahoma

Over the past few months and years, you may have noticed that marijuana use is becoming mainstream—from jokes about medical marijuana in the Democratic Debates, to presidential candidate Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama admitting to marijuana use and cannabis cafes opening in California. While this industry boom is helpful for those who rely on medical marijuana to treat various diseases and disorders from epilepsy to PTSD, for those still languishing in prison for non-violent drug offenses, this can seem like a double standard. 

Oklahoma has taken a large step to correcting this error with the nation’s largest commutation. A commutation is when a crime is diminished in severity and thus a lesser sentence is applied, often leading to a release from prison. In 2017, Oklahoma voters voted for SQ 780 which made drug possession and some property crimes a misdemeanor and would allow people serving felony time for these now misdemeanor crimes the chance for their freedom. Starting November 1st, almost 3,500 inmates will be up to go to the Pardon and Parole Board and then to Governor Kevin Stitt for final approval for release. 

On November 4th, more than 450 Oklahoman inmates will be released which will be the nation’s single largest mass commutation, even larger than Obama’s release of 330 federal prisoners on his last day in office. Gov. Stitt promised that his office will push the paperwork through stating, "Today, we are implementing the will of the people. I truly believe that.”