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Senator Files Bill to End Some Life Sentences (Aug 18, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma state Sen. Constance Johnston says she's filed a bill that would eliminate the life-without-parole sentence for people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.

Johnston said in a Thursday news release that she filed the bill after testifying Wednesday in favor of commuting the life-without-parole sentence of convicted drug dealer Larry Yarbrough. The state Pardon and Parole Board voted to recommend Yarbrough's sentence be commuted to an amount of time that would make him eligible for parole within a year.

Johnson is 61 and has spent 17 years in prison.

Johnston says the life-without-parole sentence for nonviolent drug crimes have not reduced drug use and that they contribute to prison overcrowding and increased costs.

The Legislature meets starting in February.

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