Warren Rawls didn’t measure the time in weeks or months that remained in his Oklahoma prison sentence for nonviolent drug possession. He counted time in days.
That is until surprise mercy arrived in late 2019 when his request for a commutation of his sentence was approved. A commutation reduces the sentence of someone convicted of a crime whose sentence is later determined to be excessive or unjust. Amid demands for reform from voters, the Governor’s Office of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board had fast-tracked Rawls’ application for a sentence reduction along with 461 other low level drug offenders.
“I still had 3,000 days left, so it was a big, big thing for me,” Rawls told the news site Slate.
The day Rawls was released in 2019 became the largest, single-day commutation in the nation’s history and “another mark on our historic timeline as we move the needle in criminal justice reform,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said at a ceremony commemorating the releases.
Due to this strong appetite for reform, there has never been a better time in Oklahoma to seek conviction relief. Whether you’re seeking a commutation or pardon, the likelihood of success is much higher today than it was even a few years ago.
We start the process by submitting an application for relief on your behalf. The State reviews thousands of applications each year, so knowledge of the process and what factors sway the Pardon and Parole board is key to success. An exhaustive review of your case is made by the pardon and parole board before a final decision is made by the governor. They will consider the seriousness of the involved crimes, your conduct while in custody, and the length and terms of the sentence imposed. If we’re successful, you could not only achieve conviction relief but earn back the right to possess a firearm, hold a liquor license, work in law enforcement, hold public office, and more.
For Rawls, commutation of his sentence meant reconnecting with his fiance after a year apart and staying in touch only by phone. After his release, he moved into a facility for people seeking sobriety and began the road toward employment. Rawls sounded a hopeful tone and said the resources for people like him had improved dramatically.
“I need to get back to work, grow up, and start a new beginning for me.”
Don't let a past arrest control your life. Tell us a little about yourself so we can see if you qualify for an expungment. Our initial evaluation is always free.