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criminal justice

Inside A Judge’s Rehab: Unpaid Work At A Local Coca-Cola Plant

Dec 4, 2017
While at SOAR in Ada, Okla., defendants must work full time for free at a local Coca-Cola bottling plant and other companies, under threat of prison if they don’t comply.
Shane Bevel / Reveal

Retired Oklahoma Judge Thomas Landrith is hailed as a hero of criminal justice reform.

He started the first rural drug court in the nation and has reaped awards for sending defendants to treatment rather than prison. Most judges in the state model their drug courts after his.

Chicken Workers Sue, Saying They Were Modern-Day Slaves

Oct 11, 2017
CAAIR has a sprawling, grassy compound in northeastern Oklahoma. The one-year diversion program mainly relies on faith and work to treat addiction.
Shane Bevel for Reveal

Three Oklahoma men filed a federal class-action lawsuit today alleging that they were modern-day slaves forced by a drug rehabilitation program to work for free in chicken processing plants.

How A Drug Court Rehab Kept Its Participants’ Workers’ Comp

Oct 9, 2017
  Brandon Spurgin was working at the plant when a metal door crashed down on his head one night in 2014, damaging his spine.
Shane Bevel / Reveal

After Fred Barbee broke his ankle while working at a chicken processing plant in Arkansas, he expected time off to heal.

But he wasn’t in a normal workplace. A drug court judge in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had sent Barbee to a drug rehabilitation program called Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery, or CAAIR. The program makes men work without pay at plants owned by Simmons Foods Inc.

Desperate to reduce crowding in jails and prisons, court systems all over the country are trying diversion – alternatives to putting offenders behind bars. On today’s Reveal, we peek behind the good intentions and uneven results.
Gabriel Hongsdusit / Reveal

Desperate to reduce crowding in jails and prisons, court systems all over the country are trying diversion – alternatives to putting offenders behind bars. On today’s Reveal, we peek behind the good intentions and uneven results.

Reveal’s Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter investigate an Oklahoma recovery center called Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery, or CAAIR. The founders of the program say it’s all about helping people with addiction. It turns out it’s also a work camp for a major chicken company.

Reveal: Does The Time Fit The Crime?

Oct 2, 2017
The number of women in U.S. prisons and jails has increased more than 700 percent since 1980. And for 25 years, Oklahoma has led the nation in locking up women. This week on Reveal, we look at the causes behind this spike.
Ben Fine / Reveal

This week on Reveal, we take a look at prisons as a part of our series And Justice for Some.

The number of women in U.S. prisons has increased more than 700 percent since 1980. And for nearly all of that time, Oklahoma has led the nation in locking up women. Reveal Senior Editor Ziva Branstetter teams up with Allison Herrera and The Frontier, an Oklahoma-based investigative news website, to find out why.

Let Down And Locked Up: Why Oklahoma’s Female Incarceration Is So High

Sep 20, 2017
Robyn Allen, 52, is serving 20 years at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in central Oklahoma for trafficking of methamphetamine. This was her first felony offense.
Glassbreaker Films

Robyn Allen saw her daughter for the first time in two years from across the yard of Oklahoma’s largest women’s prison, the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center.

The Oklahoma County Jail.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Local government has taken another step to improve cooperation between law enforcement and conditions in the Oklahoma County Jail.

As Criminal Justice Laws Take Effect, Uncertainty Surrounds Bigger Changes

Jun 29, 2017
The majority of Oklahoma voters supported State Question 780, which will make simple possession of drugs and certain property crimes misdemeanors. The goal is to reduce incarceration.
Oklahoma Watch

Criminal justice measures approved by Oklahoma voters in November will take effect later this week, testing predictions that fewer people will go to prison and taxpayers will ultimately save millions of dollars.

Michael Cross / KOSU

Criminal justice reform supporters rallied at the Capitol on Wednesday in a final push for bills to reduce prison populations.

The group Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform says about ten bills from the Governor's Justice Reform Initiative are still alive in conference committee and could pass before the end of session on May 26th.

Former House Speaker Kris Steele says fixing the broken justice system is absolutely a budget issue.

Gov. Mary Fallin during her 2015 State of the State address Feb. 2, 2015.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

 

As Governor Mary Fallin prepares for her State of the State address on Monday, February 6th, the Oklahoma legislature looks at changes involving taxes, criminal justice and disciplining some of their own.

At the Associated Press Legislative Forum on Thursday, Gov. Fallin said she wants to see, “a major overhaul of our tax system.”

Carla Quillen, a proponent of SQ 780/781 stands outside her office on Aug. 30, 2016
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Oklahoma’s prisons are crowded, and the state continues to incarcerate offenders at the second- highest rate in the nation, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Two state questions on the November 8 ballot aim to ease both of those strains.  

State Tries To Address Corrections System In New Task Force

Sep 1, 2016
Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her 2016 State of the State address Feb. 1, 2016.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin announced a new criminal justice task force Wednesday. The 18-member group wants to have data-driven policy reforms proposed in time for the 2017 legislative session.

 

Fallin says The Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force aims to reduce Oklahoma’s prison population while maintaining public safety and controlling the ever-increasing cost of the the state’s corrections system. Annually, Oklahoma pays roughly $500 million to the Department of Corrections.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Gov. Mary Fallin signed election proclamations Monday for five state questions that will now be on November’s general election ballot.

Gov. Mary Fallin
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Governor Mary Fallin on Friday vetoed a bill mandating pardon and parole board hearings for inmates convicted of crimes requiring payment of 85 percent of a sentence. 

House Bill 3159 earned almost unanimous support in both the House and the Senate during the 55th legislative session.

Victor / Flickr.com

A group wanting criminal justice reform measures on November’s ballot submitted more than 200,000 signatures to the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office Thursday.

The two state questions complement new laws passed during the 2016 legislative session.

The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office filed sodomy and rape charges against a 17-year-old boy in April 2015. The case was ultimately rejected.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

Update
State Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, says he plans to amend a bill to include unconscious victims in Oklahoma's forcible sodomy law. In a news release, Biggs said, "“I am horrified by the idea that we would allow these depraved rapists to face a lower charge simply because the victim is unconscious. I think the judges made a grave error, but if they need more clarification, we are happy to give it to them by fixing the statute."

Fallin Signs Off On Criminal Justice Reform Package

Apr 27, 2016
Gov. Mary Fallin signs into law bills part of a criminal justice reform package
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Governor Mary Fallin signed into law four criminal justice reform bills Wednesday. Each bill is aimed at scaling back Oklahoma’s sentencing practices.

The legislation comes as a result of Fallin’s Oklahoma Justice Reform Committee that met during the fall of 2015.

young girl in handcuffs, juvenile justice, corrections
houstondwiPhotos mp / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

When they gathered at the State Capitol last week, criminal justice experts seemingly had reason to celebrate: From 2001 to 2013, the number of Oklahoma juvenile offenders ordered by courts into the state's secure detention centers dropped by 56 percent, slightly more than the national rate.

But no one at a March 15 meeting of juvenile justice officials, judges, prosecutors and legislators was trumpeting progress.

Some of the reasons:

Wesley Fryer / Flickr

Oklahoma’s three privately-operated prisons house roughly one-third of the state’s imprisoned population and cost the Department of Corrections more than $92 million last year. But a recently released video offers a glimpse into a series of violent disturbances at one facility.

 

The video, from what appears to be a contraband cell phone, shows a group of inmates throwing another prisoner over a balcony onto the floor below.

Kris Steele, former Oklahoma House speaker and now director of The Education and Employment Ministry, and other community leaders are backing two proposed ballot initiatives intended to address prison overcrowding.
Michael Williams / Oklahoma Watch

An advocacy group, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, is seeking more than 65,000 signatures by early June to put two measures before voters on November’s ballot.

Should the group garner enough signatures, the ballot would include State Questions 780 and 781, both seeking to address prison overcrowding and community mental health and to reduce sentences for future offenders convicted of low-level, nonviolent crimes.

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