Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: January 12, 2012
Sen. Harry Coates
Coates: Mississippi controversy highlights need to remove governor
from parole process
After a Mississippi judge this week blocked the release of 21 inmates
pardoned by former Gov. Haley Barbour, Sen. Harry
Coates on Thursday pointed to the resulting controversy as a
textbook example of why Oklahoma should remove the governor from
the parole process. Barbour issued more than 200 pardons just days
before leaving office.
Four of those pardoned and released were convicted murderers, all
of whom had worked at the governor’s mansion while serving
their sentences in minimum security prisons.
While the Legislature in 2011 approved a measure to remove the
governor from the parole process for most nonviolent crimes, Coates
has filed a bill to remove the governor completely from the process.
Senate Joint Resolution 46 would send the issue to a vote of the
“Given the numerous responsibilities of the office, it makes
little sense that the governor also be burdened by involvement in
the parole process,” said Coates, R-Seminole. “The current
controversy in Mississippi highlights the potential drawbacks associated
with having a governor in this position. This is a common sense
effort to mitigate any such risks by allowing the qualified and
experienced members of the Pardon and Parole Board the opportunity
to determine the best course of action in each case.”
Coates noted that if his measure was approved, the governor would
still exert significant authority over the Pardon and Parole Board,
retaining the authority to appoint a majority of its membership.
“Relieving the governor of this responsibility will give
our state’s chief executive more time to focus on her agenda
for economic development and job growth,” he said.
For more information contact:
Sen. Coates: (405) 521-5547