TAFT, Okla. -- These women have ample reason to be celebrate. They are among the first group of Oklahoma inmates who could be released from prison in a few weeks. Inmate Tana Hackley said, “I’m just super stoked, sir. I’m super stoked, so excited.”
Oklahoma voters approved a measure to change certain drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
A sweeping commutation docket is set for November 1st, where 900 men and women could be set free.
Steven Bickley, Executive Director of the Pardon and Parole Board said, “They may get out early because of that. This, along with the DOC and Governor’s office are coming together. What can we do for these releasing inmates?”
Thursday at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft – a 1st of its kind resource fair. The inmates are networking with potential employers. According to Jaime Mayes with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to look for diverse, inclusive employees and a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the community and do something good.”
There are also vendors here, offering sobriety assistance and transitional housing. Thomas Floyd is a former inmate, now working at the Oxford House. He said, “They grabbed me by the hand, they lead me to 12 step meetings. I got a sponsor and it changed my life. It was through watching them and learning how to do that.”
Interim DOC Director Scott Crow believes providing them with resources is critical to their success. “They’re getting the tools and resources to be productive members of society, to be the mothers and fathers we need them to be and be productive citizens”, Crow said.
This could be the biggest one-time release in the history of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
These inmates are eager to prove their value and overcome public perception. According to Heather Garcia, “We are not so much forgotten as judged. So, it’s a reassuring feeling to know there are people who’ve been in the same position as you and they care about you and want you to succeed in life.”
A new life – that could begin on November 1st.