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criminal justice

Gov. Kevin Stitt and legislators celebrated a budget deal in the waning days of the session.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Multiple polls show the majority of Oklahoma voters support criminal justice reforms.

Survey data commissioned by Oklahoma Public Radio stations for the Oklahoma Engaged Project also suggest a majority of voters believe the state’s sentencing laws need to be reworked.

Oklahoma is now the number one incarcerator in the country, but only one bill targeting prison population control reached the governor’s desk this session.

Jessica Collett, assistant sexual assault nurse examiner coordinator at the Women’s Resource Center in Norman, demonstrates the dangers of strangulation on a mannequin head.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

On a June night last year, an argument broke out at an Atoka County home.

A woman’s teenage daughter was playing loud music, and her husband asked her to tell the daughter to turn the music off. The argument escalated, and the woman said her husband “put both hands around her neck and choked her” so that “she felt her body being lifted off of the ground by her neck,” a court affidavit said.

Sue Ogrocki/AP Images

In this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley discuss the final week of the 2019 legislative session. After approving a budget, lawmakers passed several criminal justice reforms, but they left one on the table: bail reform. 

Lawmakers adjourned the 2019 legislative session Thursday. StateImpact reporters followed a number of issues this year. They sit down to talk about the bills that made it to the end of the session and those that are in limbo.

Lorenzo Clerkley was shot in his hip and his thigh.
Brianna Bailey / The Frontier

Oklahoma City Police could face legal action in retaliation for the March shooting of a 14-year-old black boy.

Gov. Kevin Stitt, musician MC Hammer and representatives of the nonprofit Last Mile program unveil a coding program inside the women’s prison Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McCloud.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Criminal justice measures moving through the legislative process got a boost this week as Gov. Kevin Stitt announced a new initiative Wednesday focused on giving offenders second chances.

Roger Mills County Jail Control Room
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

An arrest in Roger Mills County ends with a drive into the sheriff department’s garage and a short walk through the jail’s heavy door. Sheriff Darren Atha and his deputies bring their prisoner inside, they search them, sit them down in a brown chair and start booking them.

Clay Bennett, center, chairs the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Control of the state’s largest county jail could be placed under the authority of a public-private trust according to a plan considered Thursday by an Oklahoma County advisory group.

Terry Sue Barnett feeds her cows on her property in Nowata County.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The sheriff of a Northeastern Oklahoma county and her staff quit after being ordered to bring inmates back to a jail they called unsafe. StateImpact's Quinton Chandler reports the source of the problem is money and it's a headache shared by other county jails around the state. 

With a huge freshman class and a promise for less gridlock, Oklahoma lawmakers filed more than 2,800 bills this legislative session. With a third of the session now over, the StateImpact team has an update on some bills we’re following.

The state Pardon and Parole Board will consider a group of inmates who qualify under a new, streamlined parole process.
Oklahoma Watch

A new type of streamlined parole will get its first test next week when the initial group of inmates eligible for the early release are considered by the Pardon and Parole Board.

Tracy Smallwood is grateful for the life she’s worked to build after leaving prison.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tracy Smallwood says her life before she went to prison was just “dead time.”

Lauren Atkins said sexual assault kits are a crucial part of an investigation and are very important to a victim looking for justice.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

A state agency is preparing to launch a website to keep tabs on forensic evidence collected after a sexual assault. State officials hope to launch the site in March. As StateImpact's Quinton Chandler reports, the new system — and newly proposed legislation — could help investigators solve sexual assault cases and give victims more peace of mind.

Jess Dunn Correctional Center in Taft, Oklahoma.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Two state lawmakers filed a bipartisan bill Thursday to make State Question 780 retroactive.

Matt Hall outside the Oklahoma County District Courthouse
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

People enrolled in the Oklahoma County Drug Court have to report to a lab for drug tests. Judge Kenneth Stoner tells more than a dozen men and women sitting on the hard wooden benches of his courtroom that if the lab is open, they have to go. 

A Preview Of The Big Issues StateImpact Is Watching In 2019

Jan 4, 2019
Teachers rally at the state capitol during the teacher walkout.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Twenty-nineteen means a new governor for Oklahoma and a fresh class of state legislators — nearly 40 percent of whom have zero political experience. It’s a new year, but the state government’s slate hasn’t been wiped clean.

Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest policy issues on deck for the upcoming year and legislative session.

Former Firstep participant Dustin Misener was assigned to work on a demolition crew. After Misener was injured on the job, Firstep kept most of his first disability check and asked him to leave the program.
Brianna Bailey / The Frontier

Dustin Misener started using drugs in his early teens growing up in rural Oklahoma. By his 30s, he was battling an addiction to methamphetamine and had racked up multiple drug-related convictions in Oklahoma.

“I was just getting out there pretty bad,” Misener said.

Misener, 32, is a U.S. Army veteran. Now he works cutting grass and setting up stage equipment for concerts. His hands are lined and calloused from a life of hard work.

Sgt. Ziakiya Byers, an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s deputy, shows a kit that is used to obtain DNA from convicted and arrested felons.
Whitney Bryan / Oklahoma Watch

With no announcement, Oklahoma jails are beginning to collect DNA from individuals arrested on felony charges – the first step in implementing a controversial state law passed two years ago.

Jason Hicks keeps mementos from past cases on a dresser in his office.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Jason Hicks stands in the back of his Duncan office behind a desk with a transparent top that frames photos of his wife and three children. 

Joe Allbaugh is director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is asking lawmakers for $1.57 billion in funding for next year, a budget request anchored by money for new prison beds and medicine for hepatitis C.

The agency’s supervisory board on Oct. 30 unanimously approved the budget request for lawmakers to consider during the 2019 legislative session.

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