50 Women Freed Early from Oklahoma Prisons This Week

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The United States leads the world in incarcerations, and the cost of keeping so many people locked up has taken a toll on our country and our communities. Many states across the country have had to start getting creative with how to handle their prison populations. In some states, inmates have been forced to share increasingly crowded spaces with one another, while other states have decided to build more prisons. Oklahoma seems to be doing something a little more logical to help reduce the population of its prisons.

After careful review of low-level offenses including minor drug crimes and theft convictions, Oklahoma decided to substantially reduce the sentences imposed on more than 500 people currently incarcerated across the state. The state Pardon and Parole Board voted to retroactively apply new Provisions from House Bill 1269 to those already in the state’s prisons, effectively reducing or commuting the sentences for hundreds of inmates.

On Monday, November 4th, 2019, no fewer than 55 women left the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, Oklahoma. Hundreds of other inmates, both male and female, were also released from various prisons around the state on Monday. Many of these individuals have already served months or even years for nonviolent offenses.

What Oklahoma has done will have a profound impact on the community. With 462 individuals returned to the community, they will be able to offer support to their families and begin life once again as productive members of society.

In a country so often obsessed with punishing people as much as possible, it is reassuring and beautiful to see state officials in a relatively conservative state choosing compassion and human decency. Although many thousands of others still languish in prison, this mass release is a sign that change is on its way, due in no small part to the work of activists who are pushing for criminal justice reform.

For previous Ladybud articles about criminal justice reform, click here.