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criminal justice

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.

Ada resident Roland Boggs says he supports Democratic district attorney hopeful Josh Edwards.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Integrity, experience and a plan for change are the keys to some voters’ support in Hughes, Pontotoc and Seminole counties, which are all represented by the same district attorney’s office.

Angie White said while she’s afraid her brother will go to jail, she will feel some relief if she knows where he is.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Addiction is a bitter enemy that has haunted Angie White’s family for decades. White has watched her 49-year-old brother struggle with drug abuse most of his life.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh hopes prison reform doesn’t stop with the last round of Legislature’s last round of reform bills.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Every day, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh sits at his desk and tries to make a severely overcrowded, understaffed prison system work.

Kelly Vierling said her family found out quickly it was their responsibility to figure out what would happen next during the prosecution of her son’s killer.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Kelly Vierling said her son had a “huge heart.”

Vierling’s eyes water as she described her 21-year-old son Alex in her office on the Oklahoma State University campus. 

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

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections was a frequent topic for lawmakers during this year’s legislative session. The department was given an additional $8.75 million to balance its books for fiscal year 2018 and more than $517 million for fiscal year 2019 that began July 1. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troester announced indictments against the five Oklahomans, Thursday.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Oklahoma announced indictments Thursday against three Oklahoma doctors, a pharmacist and a businesswoman on more than 200 counts of federal charges for health care fraud and writing illegal prescriptions. 

Two of the doctors face charges for five deaths that prosecutors claim resulted from their alleged illegal distribution of drugs.

Eric Haynes of Ada, Okla., says poorly maintained roads and sidewalks are among the biggest issues his community faces.
Caroline Halter / KGOU

Oklahoma voters will pick their primary candidates on June 26 and weigh in on a state question about legalizing medical marijuana. The political heat will build through the summer with high-profile endorsements, big-money ad blitzes and campaign promises.

Oklahoma State Reformatory is a minimum security prison that houses over a thousand male inmates.
Bill Broiles / Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Repair crews on Tuesday restored water service to Oklahoma State Reformatory in southwestern Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials said a leak in a local water line drained the prison’s water tower Sunday night.

The leak drained multiple water towers near the town of Granite, including the prison’s. But state prison officials say malfunctioning pumps at a nearby water treatment plant added to the problem. Without the pumps it was difficult to refill the empty water towers. 

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