OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (STL.News) Hundreds of Oklahoma inmates are getting a fresh start. According to Jessica Norton, “I’m paving the way for a new existence out there, sober. And it’s going to be awesome. With this opportunity I get to go home and see my children and begin a new life.”
Jessica Norton got the news recently, she was eligible for early release. Oklahoma voters approved a measure – changing certain drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
A commutation docket is set for November 1st – where several hundred men and women could have their sentences dramatically reduced.
This event at Kate Barnard Correctional Center is the latest in a series of transitional fairs, preparing inmates for life after incarceration. According to First Lady Sarah Stitt, “It’s so exciting to see the community organizations partnering with the Department of Corrections to come in and give these inmates an opportunity for success.”
These Kate Barnard inmates are receiving supportive services — everything from health care to housing. Tammy Akerman with Dunamis House said, “The person has to want change. If they want to change we have a community of people who want to link arms with them but they have to want the change.”
First Lady Sarah Stitt believes support from agencies and employers can change the trajectory of these inmate’s lives. “We can’t just release someone, shake their hand and say have a happy life. There is very little opportunity for success in that. We need to come around them as a community and so how them support, give them tools and teach them what they don’t know and help them reenter into our society so they can get their children back, they can hold down a job and educate themselves and become a really productive Oklahoman,” Still said.
It is a life changing gift for a better tomorrow.