By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – A story that appeared in the Guthrie News Page on May 5 reports that Laura Austin Thomas, the district attorney for Payne and Logan counties, requested that two of the five Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board members, Kelly Doyle and Adam Luck, be removed from the board. She cited conflicts of interest with their work for the Center for Employment Opportunities and CityCare.
Doyle and Luck were appointed to the Pardon and Parole Board by Governor Kevin Stitt.
Now, a group of Oklahoma community, business and faith leaders are coming to the defense of Doyle and Luck and their work with the Pardon and Parole Board.
Jonathan Small, President, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, said, “Adam Luck has brought an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability to the Pardon and Parole Board. In a time where much of state government is shrouded in mystery, it’s refreshing to see our public servants engaging the public in the process.”
Ken Levit, Executive Director, George Kaiser Family Foundation stated, “Governor Stitt has improved the efficiencies and effectiveness of our state’s Pardon and Parole Board. His appointees, including Kelly Doyle and Adam Luck, have the requisite training, experience and expertise that are critical when making informed decisions. We continue to support the Pardon and Parole Board and their important work.”
Amy Santee, Senior Program Officer, George Kaiser Family Foundation stated, “Kelly Doyle has been a leader in the Tulsa Community and nation on best practices in the area of criminal justice and has extensive knowledge on risk, recidivism and public safety. She is a tremendous asset to the Pardon and Parole Board.”
Zoë Towns, Senior Criminal Justice Reform Director, FWD.us, said, “Gov. Stitt has demonstrated leadership on criminal justice reform and a strong commitment to changing the culture of corrections in Oklahoma. His appointees to the Pardon and Parole Board, including Kelly Doyle and Adam Luck, are system experts with years of reentry experience who have helped the board to make more informed and fair decisions. FWD.us continues to support the direction the Pardon and Parole Board has taken for more than a year to safely reduce the state’s incarceration rate.”
Ahniwake Rose, Executive Director, Oklahoma Policy Institute stated, “The increases in parole and commutations under the current Pardon and Parole Board have yielded positive results in safely providing many Oklahomans a second chance. We commend Governor Stitt for appointing talented and competent leaders like Director Steve Bickley and Board members Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle to fulfill the responsibilities associated with this function of the criminal justice system.”
Rev. Chris Moore, Fellowship Congregational Church, Tulsa, had this to say: “As someone whose family was directly impacted by the death penalty, I can attest that executions create new victims, and the effects last for generations. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board needs leaders like Steve Bickley, Kelly Doyle and Adam Luck to ensure that justice remains just.”
Rev. Lori Walke, Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ OKC, offered this statement: “Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle’s work with the Pardon and Parole Board has allowed countless Oklahomans a chance to get their lives back. They’ve pioneered commutations on a nationally historic scale. These achievements and compassion for their neighbors do not go unnoticed.”
Gene Rainbolt, Chairman Emeritus, BancFirst Corporation, said, “Among the Pardon and Parole Board’s many important purposes is to ensure that no Oklahoman’s potential is wasted. The loss of that potential is a great financial and moral cost to our state. Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle have done a tremendous job ensuring that second chances are given to those who will use them to work hard and become productive citizens.”
Sue Ann Arnall, President, Arnall Family Foundation said in support of Doyle and Luck: “Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle have shown exceptional leadership during their time on the Pardon and Parole Board. The Board’s commutations over the past year have made Oklahoma a national leader in safe, effective criminal justice reform. I commend Governor Stitt’s appointments to the Board and would like to see them continue their work in our state.”
Mimi Tarrasch, Chief Program Officer, Women in Recovery stated, “Kelly Doyle and Adam Luck have brought good sense and fair judgement to the Pardon and Parole Board. Their work has provided deserving Oklahomans with a second chance to build successful, productive lives while maintaining public safety.”
Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, Founder, Terence Crutcher Foundation stated, “Oklahoma’s justice system incarcerates people of color, especially Black Oklahomans, at astonishing rates. The Pardon and Parole Board has contributed significantly to the safe reduction of our state’s prison population, allowing Oklahomans to start making better lives for themselves. It’s clear to me that Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle are working for the good of our state.”
In a related development, over 200 Oklahoma organizations, businesses, along with faith and community leaders have called for the resignation of Pardon and Parole board member, Judge Allen McCall, a Gov. Mary Fallin appointee. McCall accused Luck and Doyle of working on behalf of the “social justice reform crowd” in a June 7 email.
McCall also threatened Pardon and Parole Board Executive Director Steve Bickley with a grand jury investigation unless he made efforts to keep death row inmates from seeking commutation hearings.
McCall told reporter Ben Felder of The Frontier he would not comment because “I think the email I sent to Mr. Bickley is the subject of an executive session discussion.”
The community letter calling for the resignation of Judge McCall reads as follows:
Judge McCall unjustly used his position at the board to intimidate Executive Director Steven Bickley, threatening him with criminal accusations and saying he would seek his termination. These threats were made because Judge McCall disagreed with proposed Board policy, and were not grounded in any wrongdoing by Director Bickley.
Our state is in an incarceration crisis that demands reform now. McCall’s actions are a dangerous distraction from the important work the Pardon and Parole Board does — work that has become even more vital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board received national recognition last November for its historic commutations and has deftly balanced public safety with safely reducing our state’s prison population through the leadership of board members like Adam Luck and Kelly Doyle.
We urge Judge McCall to resign immediately so the Pardon and Parole Board can continue with its priorities: maintaining public safety while giving Oklahomans a second chance.
The 200 names of community and faith leaders calling for McCall’s resignation are listed below: