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Parole can be divided into two categories:
1. Violent Crimes; and
2. Non-Violent Crimes.
If an offended has been convicted on a violent crime, they must serve 85% of their sentence to be eligible for parole consideration. The list of violent offenses are listed in Title 57 of Oklahoma Statutes. When an offender receives a positive recommendation by the Pardon and Parole Board for a violent crime, the recommendation is then sent to the Governor for final approval.
If an offender has been convicted on a non-violent crime, they must serve 1/3 of their sentence to be eligible for parole consideration. When an offender receives positive recommendation by the Pardon and Parole Board for a non-violent crime, the recommendation then becomes final and does not require the Governor's approval.
The ultimate goal of parole is to provide community supervision to offenders who have served their sentence in prison to have the chance to integrate back in to society while being monitored. There can be certain conditions placed on the parolee that they must complete to be successful. However, if the parolee violates any of the conditions of parole, it may result in the imposition of additional conditions, up to and including returning the offender back to the institutional setting.
Each offender is given an initial parole docket eligibility date when they are processed into the prison system (unless otherwise not qualified under statute).
When an offender’s eligibility date arrives an investigative report will be prepared and presented to the Pardon and Parole Board and a hearing will be scheduled.
When the date nears, a hearing notice is sent to the offender, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, the prosecuting District Attorneys, the victim(s) of the crime who have registered with the Pardon and Parole Board Victim's Coordinator, and other interested citizens who have registered to receive notice.
The Pardon and Parole Board considers the safety of the victim and citizens when making their decision. Before granting parole, the Board strongly considers whether or not an offender has demonstrated appropriate behavior while in an institution which ensures an opportunity for success socially and economically. Each offender's situation is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Each member of the Pardon and Parole Board votes individually and they must have a majority vote for a final decision. Because there are five (5) Pardon and Parole Board members, three (3) must vote in the positive for the parole to be granted in non-violent cases and recommended to the Governor in violent cases.
Each vote is not finalized until the meeting is adjourned on the final day. Afterwards the votes are validated, and are posted for public dissemination.
The Pardon and Parole Board makes one of four (4) decisions at a parole hearing. The decisions are:
1. Recommend parole for violent offenders to the Governor;
2. Grant parole for non-violent offenders;
3. Pass to another docket. This option is rarely used and is typically done when additional information is needed.
4. Denial of parole for the offender.
If the Pardon and Parole Board denies an offender parole, the violent offender will not be considered for another 3 to 5 years. Non-violent offenders will not be considered for 1 year.
It should be noted, just because an offender is eligible for a parole hearing, does not mean the parole will be granted automatically. As mentioned before, many factor are considered when granting parole and the Pardon and Parole Board does not take their decision lightly.