criminal justice

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

When Frank Taylor moved to Taft, Oklahoma from California six years ago, his friends asked how he could live in a town of about 300 people right next to two prisons. He laughed it off. 

“I got two big pit bulls,” Taylor said. 

Taylor says the small Oklahoma town is a place where he thought he could leave his doors unlocked. His home, near the center of town, is less than a mile from one of the prisons, Jess Dunn Correctional Center.

The minimum-security men’s prison has a problem.

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. 

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.

Advocates for prisoners from several groups tell NPR that White House officials have privately asked them for potential candidates for clemency, and they have offered dozens of names.

The outreach came in the wake of President Trump's recent spate of pardons and commutations — most of which were granted to public figures or individuals who had received a lot of media attention.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Nearly 20 years of chronic pain hasn’t killed David Rowden’s sense of humor. 

The 62-year-old army veteran looks at a family picture standing on a coffee table and points out that the man on a nearby magazine cover isn’t family. 

“That’s Willie Nelson,” Rowden said with a heavy laugh. 

Rowden eases himself into an armchair and sets a glass of beer on a side table. His tone becomes serious as he describes the freak workplace accident that brings him chronic pain. 

Nick Oxford / Innocence Project

Johnny Tallbear has proclaimed his innocence for 26 years. Now, people are listening to him. 

DNA tests ordered by the Innocence Project led prosecutors to ask a judge to dismiss a first-degree murder charge levied against Tallbear, which led to his conviction and life-prison sentence in 1992. 

Prosecutors at the time claimed Tallbear fatally stabbed and beat a homeless man known as “Pops” with help from a second man who was never identified. 

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Canadian County Sheriff Chris West sits in a dimly lit office decorated with hunting trophies and law enforcement memorabilia. 

West is visibly frustrated when he says the Oklahoma Department of Corrections owes his county $88,691 for at least two years of jail costs — and he isn’t the only one complaining. The Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association says the state is shortchanging most counties for housing state prison inmates.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Oklahoma state attorneys warned of an ominous legal decision that could upend the jurisprudence around Native sovereignty in the United States.

“Oklahoma stands on the brink of the most radical jurisdictional shift since statehood,” state attorneys wrote in a Supreme Court brief filed last month. This week, the highest court agreed to hear the case in question, "Royal v. Murphy."

The estate of a 16-year-old boy who committed suicide in a Muskogee juvenile detention center has filed a lawsuit against multiple government agencies and employees arguing the boy’s life could have “easily” been saved if staff had done their jobs.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a case about Native American territory and a 1999 murder that could broadly affect tribal sovereignty and state legal authority.

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