Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Friday he’s commuted the prison sentences of more than 450 inmates to help reduce overcrowding and slow the spread of the coronavirus in state prisons.
Stitt said in a press release more than 400 of the inmates will be released next Thursday. Most were serving time for drug possession and property crimes.
“We’ve been working diligently with the Pardon and Parole Board to safely reduce the prison population amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stitt said.
The Department of Corrections announced its first confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — four prison workers, a probation and parole officer and an inmate at the Jackie Brannon Correctional Center in McAlester.
Statewide, eight more people died and more than 100 more tested positive for coronavirus, state health officials reported Friday.
The new figures bring the state’s total number of people in the state who have COVID-19 to 1,794 and the number of deaths to 88. Seven of the eight new deaths were individuals older than 65, health officials said.
Gov. Kevin Stitt said at a press conference Friday the state has enough available hospital beds, intensive-care unit beds and ventilators to handle even the worst-case predictions for a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“We are bending the curve in Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “Even at the high end of the peak, we’re still in good shape.”
Stitt said most models predict the state’s surge in COVID-19 cases will happen near the end of April.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
(Image Credit: AP)