- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 10, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s caseload has more than doubled this year thanks to the state’s recent criminal justice reforms.

The board had 6,940 docketed cases this year, compared to 3,183 in 2018, according to information that board Executive Director Steven Bickley presented Monday during a board meeting in Oklahoma City.

Commutation cases saw the highest year-on-year increase, 426%, while pardon cases were up 76% and parole cases were up 39%.

Recent changes in how the state treats low-level offenses drove the increase, The Oklahoman reported.

Administrativeparolewas created to streamline theparoleprocess for nonviolent offenders who have served at least 25% of their sentences and follow other eligibility requirements.

Another recent change driving the increase is the passage of a law this year that retroactively applied misdemeanor sentences for simple drug possession and low-level property crimes that state voters approved in 2016.

For November’s initial docket, the board prioritized offenders who could be released right away under the new law. The governor last month granted parole for 462 nonviolent offenders.

In January, the board is likely to consider additional possession crime cases affected by the new law, Bickley said

The next docket is likely to include cases of qualifying people who were admitted into the Department of Corrections after July 31 and people who have discharged other crimes and are now serving time for just drug possession.

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