Erasing a felony conviction record just became much easier.
On Nov. 1, that state changed its expungement laws to allow offenders with a single non-violent felony conviction to have it expunged, or erased.
"The legislature has done an amazing job changing the expungement laws over the last few years," Norman defense attorney Matt Swain said. "It is a huge step and another sign of criminal reform in Oklahoma."
In addition to the conviction having to be non-violent, there are other restrictions to the new law that include, no misdemeanor convictions in the past seven years, no felony or misdemeanor charges currently pending (being on probation for a misdemeanor counts as pending), and at least five years must have passed since the completion of the sentence for the felony conviction.
Swain said the move is going to help a lot of Oklahomans get their lives back on track.
"A lot of the people I've talked to about this had a single conviction in the 80s, a lot of which were drug convictions," he said. "This change is going to take a weight off people, allowing them to feel more confident in getting new jobs and moving their lives forward."
Swain said offenders are not the only ones that are affected by felony convictions.
"They have families," he said. "They have children who need food and other necessities that every other child needs."
Swain said the most significant changes involve the pardon process for felony convictions.
"Previously, if you had a felony conviction you had to go through a pardon process, asking the governor for a pardon. And you had to do that for every felony conviction," he said.
"With these changes, lawmakers have opened the window for certain people to be able to get an expungement done on a felony case and not have to go get the pardon first. They've made the process go a lot smoother and quicker. It went from taking anywhere from six months to a year, to as little as 60 days."
According to statistics provided by the governor's office, Gov. Mary Fallin has granted 125 pardons so far this year and denied seven. She also granted 62 commutations and denied two.
Sentence commutations, a form of clemency, are different from pardons in that it does not erase a person's criminal record in the way that a pardon would; it only shortens a person's sentence.
Of the 62 commutations Fallin, 30 of them occurred in December.
"These Oklahomans are going to be better served out of prison with their families, in treatment, and getting back in the workforce as taxpayers," Fallin said.
Fallin has signed 17 criminal justice reforms while in office. Her last day in office will be Jan. 14.