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Commutation docket gives hope to hundreds of inmates

Friday, November 01, 2019

McLOUD, Okla. -- The greatest piece of jewelry a mother can wear is the arms of a child. 

Calista Ortiz's family portrait felt complete with the birth of her son, Thomas. Calista's sister, Gabriela said, "Calista has a servant’s heart. She always has. Always wanted to be a mom and have kids."

Only three months after Thomas was born, happiness turned to heartbreak.  It was New Year's Day, 2016. Ortiz said, "As a mother I sensed something was wrong. I looked at him and he looked peaceful and I picked up his hand and it dropped."

Calista and paramedics tried for more than an hour to revive him.  Ortiz recalls, "That was the hardest decision I ever had to make. To sign the paper and say stop working on him because he’s gone."

During the funeral, Ortiz says someone slipped drugs into her purse.  It was a foolish attempt to ease a mother's pain.  But it lead to a downward spiral of drug addiction and ultimately, an 8 year prison sentence. 

She has missed those first steps, first day of school pictures and several family get-togethers. Her youngest sister, Sara said, "Our holidays are really huge and we have a lot of people. But when a sibling is missing it really leaves a big gap in our celebration. It’ll be great for Calista to be back for the first time in a really long time."

But Calista has made the most of her time behind bars.  She completed "Celebrate Recovery," joined prison fellowship, even started a food pantry for hungry cellmates. Her Mom, Rose said, "She would add vegetables and make sure they ate. So yeah, she’s blooming where she is planted."

Thanks to criminal justice reform and Calista's dedication to change, she is eligible for early release.  

Her family is hopeful for a November 4th reunion. "We might need a charter bus. That’s an indication she is loved," Rose Ortiz said.

Calista is looking forward to the life's simple pleasures, hugging her family, and a meal at Olive Garden. She's also considering a career in the mental health profession. Ortiz said, "I want to help people who have been through loss an addiction or hard things I can relate to. That’s what my calling might be."

Calista Ortiz is grateful to God, a forgiving family and second chances.  For the first time in two years, her family picture will once again be complete. 

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