Steven Bickley, executive director of Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, resigned Wednesday, saying he was being “threatened for doing my job.”
In June, board member Allen McCall told Bickley he would make accusations of unspecified criminal activity against him if he did not ask the state attorney general to weigh in on whether a death row inmate could request a commutation hearing, according to emails compiled in an internal memo that was obtained by The Frontier.
At the time, Bickley requested a leave of absence because of what he called “threats to criminalize my public service,” according to the internal memo.
On Wednesday, Bickley told the board he was resigning effective Aug. 7, according to an email obtained by The Frontier.
“While I have found public service fulfilling, I cannot tolerate my current work environment,” Bickley wrote to the board. “Policy disagreements have turned into personal attacks rather than public discussion, board members are actively seeking to create conflict between staff and the Executive Director, and I have even been threatened for doing my job. It is my sincere hope these issues are alleviated before the next Executive Director takes his or her post.”
Bickley’s resignation comes at a time when the five-person board has significantly increased its number of commutation approvals.
The board is also preparing to hear commutation requests from death row inmates, which McCall, a retired judge, believed the board was not allowed to do. Last month, Attorney General Mike Hunter told the board he believed it could legally hold commutation hearings for death row inmates.
The parole board’s executive director is hired by the board.
The Frontier is a nonprofit focusing on investigative and watchdog journalism.