Question Submitted by Gilliland, 031320 OKAG, 2020 OK AG 5

Docket Nº:2020 OK AG 5
Party Name:Question Submitted by: Chairman Robert Gilliland, Ms. Kelly Doyle, Mr. Adam Luck, Mr. Allen McCall, Mr. Larry Morris, Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board
Attorney:MIKE HUNTER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA MARIE SCHUBLE ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Case Date:March 13, 2020
Court:Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions
 
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2020 OK AG 5

Question Submitted by: Chairman Robert Gilliland, Ms. Kelly Doyle, Mr. Adam Luck, Mr. Allen McCall, Mr. Larry Morris, Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board

No. 2020 OK AG 5

Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions

March 13, 2020

MIKE HUNTER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA

MARIE SCHUBLE ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL

¶0 This office has received your request for an official Attorney General Opinion in which you ask, in effect, the following question: If a person is eligible for parole as an "aging prisoner" under 57 O.S.Supp.2019, § 332.21, but is serving consecutive sentences imposed for multiple criminal convictions, may the Pardon and Parole Board grant parole for sentence(s) yet to be served?

I.

BACKGROUND

A. Parole eligibility for persons serving consecutive sentences.

¶1 Under the Oklahoma Constitution, the Governor, upon recommendation from the Pardon and Parole Board (the "Board"), has the authority to grant parole to persons convicted of criminal acts. See OKLA. CONST. art VI, § 10. The Constitution also permits the Board itself to grant parole to persons convicted of certain nonviolent offenses:

The Pardon and Parole Board by majority vote shall have the power and authority to grant parole for nonviolent offenses after conviction, upon such conditions and with such restrictions and limitations as the majority of the Pardon and Parole Board may deem proper or as may be required by law.

Id. Under the same provision, it is the role of the Legislature to "prescribe a minimum mandatory period of confinement which must be served by a person prior to being eligible to be considered for parole." Id.

¶2 Pursuant to this authority, the Legislature created a framework for determining when an inmate is eligible for parole consideration. See 57 O.S.Supp.2019, § 332.7. 1 Generally speaking, the framework consists of a minimum percentage of the sentence that an inmate must serve before parole eligibility, taking into account the inmate's crime and the date it was committed. See id.

¶3 If a person is convicted of two or more crimes, the sentencing judge may order the sentences to be served consecutively or concurrently. 2 See 22 O.S.2011, § 976. For purposes of parole, the eligibility of an inmate sentenced to consecutive terms of imprisonment is addressed by Title 57, Section 332.7(I), which provides as follows:

Inmates sentenced to consecutive sentences shall not be eligible for parole consideration on any such consecutive sentence until one-third (1/3) of the consecutive sentence has been served or where parole has been otherwise limited by law, until the minimum term of incarceration has been served as required by law. Unless otherwise ordered by the sentencing court, any credit for jail time served shall be credited to only one offense.

57 O.S.Supp.2019, § 332.7 (I). 3 This means that an inmate serving consecutive sentences must serve at least one-third--or some other minimum amount where applicable--of the first sentence before he or she is eligible for parole. But if parole is granted as to that sentence, the inmate is not released from confinement. Rather, the inmate then begins serving the next sentence, for which he or she will again be eligible for parole subject to the...

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