AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Tina Stone has been arrested by authorities in Amarillo after being on the lam for nearly a decade because a temporary warrant for her arrest expired, despite authorities knowing of her whereabouts.
Stone, 54, walked away from a Tulsa halfway house on Dec. 29, 1997. She moved to Amarillo and although she was arrested several times in Texas, the Inspector General's office could not extradite her without a warrant.
She was serving a 7-year sentence for second-degree forgery and possession of stolen property.
Under Senate Bill 1001, recently signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections' (DOC) Office of the Inspector General is now able to issue permanent warrants to bring individuals who unlawfully leave a state facility back into custody.
Prior to SB 1001, if a judge didn't issue a permanent warrant within 48 hours of an inmate's escape the temporary arrest warrant issued by the Inspector General's office would expire. Without the permanent warrant for arrest, outside law enforcement would not be aware of an inmate's escape status.
Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the new law allows better communication with outside law enforcement and will go a long way in bringing inmates back to custody to serve their sentence handed down by the courts.
"Under the previous system, an escapee could have been stopped by law enforcement and unbeknownst to the officer, they could have released the individual," Allbaugh said. "This law cuts through unnecessary hurdles and as we can see in this instance, brings individuals leaving custody before their sentence expires back to do their time.
"I appreciate Gov. Mary Fallin for signing this important bill into law. I also thank Sen. Jason Smalley and Rep. Jon Echols for working with the department to author it."
State Rep. Jon Echols, who was the principal House author of the bill, said the legislation is a common sense measure to improving public safety.
"Finding better solutions to keeping the public safe are core values for everyone who serves in office," Echols said. "Working with the DOC to find ways to enhance public safety was an honor and I am excited to see the law working to bring individuals back into custody."
SB 1001 was signed into law by Gov. Fallin on June 6 with an emergency clause, allowing the law to go into effect upon the governor's signature.