Confusion! Confusion! Confusion! Confusion!
Levels and Earned Credits

Since statehood Oklahoma law has provided that some type of credit be applied as a sentence reduction. As a result, prisoners in Oklahoma rarely serve their sentences day-for-day in full. Every prisoner has their term of imprisonment reduced monthly, based upon one of four class levels to which they are assigned. Earned credits are governed by state law and must be applied correctly and while no prisoner has a right per se to receive them, they do have the right to be treated equally and without prejudice within the rules and law governing their application.

Sounds simple enough until we look at Jerry’s experience and find that the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has turned what should be a wonderful incentive into a nightmare of confusion and perpetual punishment. For Jerry, the level system and its earned credits have been used as a tool of mental and physical torture.

He served over 22 years of a 25-year sentence because of the misapplication of policies and procedures by the ODOC when they sent him to Texas in 1988. Once he returned to Oklahoma in 2003, he was then prevented from rising any higher than level 2. (Read the full story in Set Me Free available as a download from this website)

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections owes Jerry years of earned credits he should have been allowed to receive if policies and procedures governing them had been applied correctly and without prejudice. If we had the money to appoint a lawyer, we could do what Jeanette Nance advised us to do in her email of October 2010:

Mrs. Hamilton - I have received your e-mail. Again, I remind you I have forwarded your inquiry and information to the Governor and Chief of Staff for review; however, I want to reiterate that your husband's rights in this case are under the law through the courts with the advice of legal counsel.
The Governor's office in Oklahoma is not a mechanism for complaints nor an investigative body.

Jeanette M. Nance
Director of Constituent Services
Office of Governor Brad Henry

Jerry is owed so much time that if it was given to him, he could discharge the final sentence he is serving and gain his release after 31 consecutive years of imprisonment.