KGOU

State Question 780

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.

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.”

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. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at Rose State College in Midwest City on October 19, 2017.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

U.S. Jeff Sessions spoke to a receptive audience Thursday when he addressed members of the Oklahoma Sheriffs Association at Rose State College in Midwest City.

Sessions said law enforcement nationwide is dealing with an increase in the violent crime rate, gangs, the opioid epidemic and threats of terrorism. Sessions says these issues are combined with cultural changes that concern him.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma state House of Representatives furthered a bill Thursday that would roll back part of a state question that was approved by voters in November.

Oklahomans voted in favor of State Questions 780 and 781 last year, which reduced simple drug possession from a felony crime to a misdemeanor.

In debate on the House floor, Republican Representative Tim Downing, R-Purcell, said House Bill 1482 would give district attorneys the discretion to enhance simple drug possession to a felony if it occurs within 1,000 feet of a school

Greg Mashburn, Oklahoma District 21 District Attorney (left), and Kris Steele, Executive Director of The Education and Employment Ministry (right), debate State Questions 780 & 781 during an October 18, 2016 Oklahoma Watch-Out forum in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma Watch

State Questions 780 and 781 propose making significant changes to Oklahoma’s criminal justice system in an effort to lower the state’s incarceration rates. SQ 780 proposes to change the classification of certain drug possession and property crimes from felony to misdemeanor offenses. SQ 781 would create the County Community Safety Investment Fund to hold and redistribute any savings achieved by incarcerating fewer people for drug possession or nonviolent crimes — the intent of