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Release of Violent Criminals Nearly Doubles Under Henry

Sen. Coffee says Gov. Henry is putting families at risk by releasing violent criminals from prison.
Sen. Laughlin discusses Oklahoma's criminal statistics.

Gov. Henry Putting Families at Risk With Release of Violent Criminals from Prison

Senate Republicans leaders said Wednesday that Gov. Brad Henry is putting Oklahoma families at risk with his approval of the release of nearly 500 violent criminals from prison since he took office two years ago – almost a 100% increase compared to former Gov. Frank Keating’s final two years in office, according to data obtained from the state’s Pardon and Parole Board.

“The first duty of government is to protect its citizens. Gov. Brad Henry is putting Oklahoma families at risk by putting so many more violent criminals on the streets,” said Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.

“This governor has a very liberal record when it comes to putting violent criminals back on the street – releasing nearly double the number of violent criminals as Frank Keating did during his last two years in office. Governors tend to approve more paroles later in their terms than earlier – so where is this governor headed if he started out this high?” Coffee stated.

Two former prosecutors – Sen. Owen Laughlin, R-Woodward, and Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman – joined Coffee at Wednesday’s news conference.

“I have spent most of my professional life as a prosecutor putting the worst of the worst behind bars. Oklahomans should be outraged that this governor is working so hard to put so many violent criminals back on the street,” Nichols said.

“I fear that it is only a matter of time before one of these thugs released early by Gov. Henry hurts somebody. I pray it doesn’t happen, but if it does he will have to answer for it,” Laughlin stated.

In Oklahoma, the governor must personally approve paroles and other early releases of criminals from prison based on recommendations by the state’s Pardon and Parole Board.

Of the five members on the board, the governor appoints three, a majority, ensuring that the governor’s criminal justice philosophy is represented on the board. The other two board members are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the presiding Judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, respectively.


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