She Brews Coffee House owner, former inmate receives in-person pardon from Gov. Stitt

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Gov. Stitt was in Claremore Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 to pardon Rhonda Bear who’s leading the way in helping convicted women re-enter the community. (KTUL photo)

Gov. Stitt was in Claremore Thursday to pardon a woman who’s leading the way in helping convicted women re-enter the community.

This after last weeks commutation of hundreds of state inmates.

It was a packed room inside what's typically a relaxed coffee shop.

Many in town showed up to see Gov. Stitt pardon Rhonda Bear, nearly 20 years since she left prison.

Bear runs She Brews Coffee House in Claremore, a unique business along the city’s main street that’s been having a big impact.

Gov. Stitt mentioned Bear during his inauguration address in January, praising her for her work, and today it came full circle.

“Coming out of prison and starting over is hard," said Bear.

This comes on the heels of the largest single day of commutations nationwide, where hundreds of inmates walked out of prison last week in Oklahoma.

“I am an investment of a lot of people in my life that helped me to grow," said Bear.

Bear opened She Brews Coffee House in 2012 employing former inmates like herself.

“I can't be more proud of the woman that she is today and what she's doing for our state, what shes doing for our community," said daughter Sara Williams.

It's a story her daughter Sara Williams knows firsthand.

“This woman that I used to have such hurt and anger towards is just nothing but happiness and joy for her," said Williams.

Since opening the store, Bear has helped employees reconnect with their children.

Women like Ashley Silcher.

“Calling my children to let them know that I was going to prison was the very rock bottom for me," said Ashley Silcher.

Bear says the next step is to get former inmates' records expunged.

She’s working with state senators on a bill right now.

More than 450 people had their sentences commuted last week.