OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board have chosen a former executive at the Museum of the Bible to be the agency's new executive director.

The five-member board voted this week to hire Steve Bickley, The Oklahoman reported. He's replacing former executive director DeLynn Fudge who retired in June.

"We couldn't have found a better choice," said Board Chairman Robert Gilliland.

He added Bickley has worked in executive management for over 20 years, but has no criminal justice experience. Bickley recently served as a vice president of marketing, finance and administration for the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which was built by the owners of Oklahoma City-based arts and craft chain Hobby Lobby.

"He will bring those management skills and business skills to the Pardon and Parole Board. He will pick up the criminal justice aspect of it very well," Gilliland said. "In general discussions with him, he has a pretty good idea of our system. I don't think that's going to be a problem."

Bickley's salary will be $108,000. He is taking over at a busy time for the Pardon and Parole Board.

Gilliland said Bickley will help manage a flood of commutation requests. State Question 780, which took effect in 2017, reclassified certain drug and property crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies. Bickley will oversee the implementation of a new law that allows for that measure to be applied retroactively, as well as new administrative parole legislation, Gilliland said.

In May, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the retroactive law directing the Pardon and Parole Board to create a faster, single-stage commutation docket for people convicted of crimes that have been downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor. As of late April, the board has received double the number of commutation requests than it did at the same time last year.


Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com