The Clemency Project named Larry Yarbrough, Sr.,as No. 2 on the list of Oklahoma inmates deserving clemency. Yarbrough is one of 49 non-violent drug offenders serving life without parole sentences in Oklahoma. Leland J. Dodd, the first drug offender sentenced to life parole, in 1991, is ranked No. 1 on the list of deserving clemency candidates.
Yarbrough, now 64, has twice been recommended for clemency by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, only to have governors reject the recommendations. In 2002, Gov. Frank Keating, a Republican and former federal prosecutor, rejected the clemency recommendation. In 2011, the board voted to recommend shortening Yarbrough’s life without parole sentence to 42 years, making him eligible for parole in 2012, his 18th year behind bars. Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, rejected the board’s recommendation.
A 2011 story described Yarbrough this way:
Larry Yarbrough has never had a single write-up during his incarceration. He has received commendations from the Department Of Corrections and nonprofits for training guide dogs for the blind and disabled. He and his wife Norma are still married after 41 years. They have 5 children and 13 grandchildren, ranging in age from 9 months to 19 years. Before his incarceration, Larry and Norma owned and operated a popular BBQ restaurant in Kingfisher where he was known for giving back to his community. Upon his release, Larry’s daughter, Lanita, and her husband plan to open a BBQ restaurant in Pittsburgh, CA for Larry to run.
The state of Oklahoma currently imprisons 25,281 in state facilities and a similar number in local jails. The state has the nation’s third highest imprisonment rate, after Louisiana and Mississippi. Drug offenses are the top reason for imprisonment.
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Update from Clemency Report Editor Dennis Cauchon: Since the article was published June 11, I have learned much more about Larry’s case and now realize this is a case of actual innocence, not of an unjustly long sentence. I apologize for not having written a fuller accounting of the case. Please watch this video from an upcoming documentary Voices in a Jailhouse that features Larry’s case among other issues.