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A commutation is a change of a sentence to one that is less severe, such as from life without the possibility of parole to life with parole, or the substitution of a lesser penalty from a greater penalty or punishment. Commutation is not intended to serve as an early release mechanism for an offender in prison. A commutation is intended to correct an unjust or excessive sentence.
A commutation is a rare, separate, and distinct process from a parole or a pardon. In Oklahoma, only the Governor can approve the commutation of a sentence after a favorable recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board. The submission of an application does not imply or guarantee that the Pardon and Parole Board will favorably recommend a commutation and/or that the Governor will approve a commutation.
The Pardon and Parole Board utilizes a two-stage process for commutation review. The first stage is a Qualification Review. During the Stage One - Qualification Review, the Pardon and Parole Board will conduct a jacket review to determine if the Application has merit and should be passed to Stage Two – Commutation Hearing for further investigation and consideration for a sentence commutation. A jacket review is a review of the Application as well as any other materials, which may be submitted to the Board for review.
If the application is passed to Stage Two, the offender will have a personal appearance with the Pardon and Parole Board via video conferencing. If an offender receives a misconduct prior to the hearing, the personal appearance is stricken, or cancelled, and the commutation consideration is conducted as a jacket review.
For a Stage Two Commutation Hearing, an offender's family and/or friends, often referred to as delegates, may speak on his/her behalf. Family and friends are allowed to attend the Stage Two Commutation Hearing; however, only two (2) persons can go before the Pardon and Parole Board and only one (1) is allowed to speak for five minutes, unless one delegate is a legal representative. Delegates may also submit letters in support of the offender's application to the Pardon and Parole Board for review. The support letters must be submitted with the application. Letters may be typed or handwritten on one-side only. Handwritten letters must be legible. Please do not use staples. Letters must include the offender's name, DOC number, and docket month and year on top of the each page and on the back of the envelope.The deadline to submit such documentation is two weeks prior to the hearing date.
Victims and/or victim's representatives, the judicial representative from the court of conviction, a representative from the arresting law enforcement agency, and/or the District Attorney are also allowed to protest the application.
After the personal appearance, the Pardon and Parole Board will vote to either favorably recommend a commutation and/or deny the request. If a favorable vote occurs, the commutation will be forwarded to the Governor. The Governor does not have a statutory time line in which to respond.
Click on the following link to apply for a commutation: