Oklahoma woman imprisoned in failure-to-protect case is free

FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2019 file photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is inmate Tondalao Hall. Hall, who has served 15 years in prison for failing to report her boyfriend, who served just two years behind bars for abusing her children, was released from custody on Friday Nov. 8, 2019.

MCLOUD, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma woman who failed to report her boyfriend for abusing her children and who spent about 13 years longer in prison than he did for the abuse was released Friday.

Tondalao Hall left a women's prison in McLoud, Oklahoma, after serving 15 years behind bars.

"First and foremost, I want to thank God for making a way and for keeping me safe and sane during this season of my life," said Hall, 35, in a statement. "Secondly, for all the people God has placed in my life, my children and my family for sticking by me. Time and space cannot accommodate the list of people who have loved, helped, and supported me through all of this, so, to everyone who has, thank you and God bless you!"

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections said Thursday that Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the order to commute her sentence. Her release comes about a month after the state Pardon and Parole Board voted unanimously to recommend that Stitt commute her sentence to time served.

The case has outraged women's rights groups and brought further attention to Oklahoma's high rate of incarceration, particularly of women.

Hall was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2006 after pleading guilty to failing to protect two of her children. The boyfriend, Robert Braxton Jr., pleaded guilty to abusing the children and was released on probation having been given credit for the two years he had already spent in jail.

The disparity of the sentences outraged women's rights advocates and brought further attention to Oklahoma's high rate of incarceration, particularly of women.

The American Civil Liberties Union in 2017 filed a lawsuit challenging what it said was a disproportionate sentence because Braxton was also abusing Hall.

While living with Braxton, Hall's young children suffered broken bones, but no evidence ever indicated Hall committed any violence or harmed her children, ACLU officials said.

Hall's release comes days after more than 450 state inmates convicted of drug and property crimes were released Monday. That group was the largest single-day mass commutation in U.S. history. Hall's commutation came separately.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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