TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Gov. Brad Henry has requested that the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board consider commuting the prison sentences of seven people who have been convicted of murder.

Board members last year recommended that Henry parole the seven, who are serving life terms for crimes dating to the 1970s.

But Henry, who must approve or deny all parole recommendations, sent the recommendations back to the Parole Board with the suggestion that the board consider commuting the life sentences to a fixed term of years, said Terry Jenks, director of the Parole Board.

Henry’s request is “fairly uncommon,” Jenks said.

“Generally speaking, the board makes a recommendation and they send it to the Governor’s Office, and he either chooses to go along with that or he says no,” Jenks said.

The board is scheduled to consider commuting the inmates’ sentences during a three-day meeting set to begin Tuesday in Oklahoma City.

Paul Sund, a spokesman for Henry, said such reconsideration requests, although rare, are sought as a compromise.

“If the governor gets a parole recommendation from the board that he thinks has some merit, the inmate has shown progress, but for whatever reason the inmate hasn’t gotten over the bar for him, rather than just give it a flat ‘denied,’ what he occasionally does is ask that they just commute a portion of their sentence,” Sund said. “It’s kind of a middle ground to give him some flexibility.”

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