On Monday, September 17, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denied commutation for the four women sentenced under Oklahoma’s “failure to protect” statute, without any discussion, hearing, or public input. As of September 15, 2018, the denial of these commutations triggers a three year wait period before any of these women can re-apply to have their cases heard. The ACLU of Oklahoma issued the following response:
The following statement is attributable to Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director:
“The majority of the Pardon and Parole Board once again demonstrated that protecting a broken criminal justice system outweighs correcting obvious injustices and unnecessarily lengthy prison terms. The Pardon and Parole Board has a historically low rate of approving requests for relief from inmates. This abysmal record is inconsistent with both the Governor’s claim to prioritize criminal justice reform and the people’s demonstrated desire to end mass incarceration. In denying these applications for commutation with apparently no regard for the women and children whose lives have been ripped to shreds by the system that is supposed to protect them, a majority of the Pardon and Parole Board has added to injustices that have implications far beyond these individual cases. Each and every Oklahoman should be ashamed of the sham carried out by a majority of the Pardon and Parole Board.”
The following statement is attributable to Megan Lambert, Staff Attorney:
“Tondalao Hall is a mother of three, a domestic violence survivor, and a human being who has been once again cast aside by a system that is punishing the very people it ought to be fighting to protect. Tondalao has served thirteen years of her aberrantly disproportionate thirty-year sentence. While the man who abused Tondalao and her children walked free over a decade ago, a majority of Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board today chose to force Tondalao to remain imprisoned for supposedly failing to stop his crime. After Oklahoma County prosecutors unjustly ripped Tondalao from her children to scapegoat her for their failure to punish her abuser, members of this board are now complicit in upholding this grossly unjust and horrendously discriminatory abuse by the State. Tondalao Hall and her children deserve the justice of her freedom. If the majority of the Pardon and Parole Board truly believes that her continued incarceration serves justice at any level, then it is well past time to consider reforms to this system and more consistently deliver on our society’s commitment to justice and public safety.”