Friday, August 19, 2011

Attorney General Pruitt Questions Pardon and Parole Board Action; Warns of Safety Concerns for Communities

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt Friday questioned a recent recommendation by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to commute the sentence of a six-time felon, calling the decision a stab at public safety.

“The board’s decision to commute the sentence of a drug trafficker who pumped LSD, cocaine and marijuana into a community for more than 10 years is of grave concern,” Pruitt said. “Larry Yarbrough is not someone who made one bad choice and deserves a second chance; he is a six-time felon who was given multiple chances to do the right thing and continued to bring drugs, theft and intimidation into an Oklahoma community.”

Yarbrough was sentenced to life without parole in 1997 after being convicted of his sixth felony. He was arrested after three drug deals in an undercover drug operation by the Kingfisher County Sheriff’s Department led to his operation. A search of Yarbrough’s home found marijuana, drug paraphernalia, a notebook with logged drug sales and 38 grams of cocaine – 10 grams more than the necessary limit for trafficking.

Despite the sentence of life without parole – which typically does not come before the pardon and parole board – board members reviewed Yarbrough’s case. On Wednesday, they recommended the governor commute the sentence to 42 years.

“One argument for commuting this sentence was the notion that drug offenses are non-violent crimes. As any district attorney, law officer or family knows, drug trafficking is not a victimless or non-violent crime,” Pruitt said. “While discussion of criminal justice reform may be necessary in Oklahoma, we need to present the full picture of these crimes to protect the safety of our communities, families and victims, who count on us to keep perpetual drug dealers like Larry Yarbrough behind bars.”
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