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Historic week for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma

During his first days of freedom, James Smith got stuck perusing the candy aisle, where he picked out a pack of watermelon Juicy Fruit.

It was the simple pleasure of going to the grocery store, something he hadn’t experienced in almost a year.

Smith, who was among more than 450 people granted an early release from prison Monday as a result of what state officials said was the largest single-day commutation in U.S. history, also set to work navigating some of the many hurdles facing him as he began his new life outside prison walls. They ranged from seemingly small challenges, like acquiring a pair of jeans, to bigger obstacles of finding a place to live and a job.

“It’s kind of overwhelming at first,” Smith, 36, said Tuesday.