StateImpact Oklahoma

StateImpact Oklahoma is a collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU. Quinton Chandler and Robby Korth travel the state to report on education, health, and criminal justice — and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans.

StateImpact Oklahoma is funded with private contributions from listeners and readers. Donate here.

Ways to Connect

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

A popular desire for reform led lawmakers to push the release of hundreds of people from Oklahoma prisons in a record commutation last year. The climactic event was born from a series of reforms that have moved Oklahoma away from the number one spot for incarceration. But, that progress might be temporary.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma tribes will pay the state an estimated $13 million dollars in Class III gaming money next Thursday. Since tribes believe the compacts auto-renewed at the start of the year – they are going to continue to remit their gaming funds like they have been for the past 15 years.

But the state isn’t going to put that money directly into education – the largest recipient of gaming money – even though it’s supposed to, under state law.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

A group of fifth graders intently watch a color-shifting octopus dream at the top of its tank.

Today, inside an outbuilding at Tahlequah’s Cherokee Elementary School these children are tasked with critically thinking about what they’re seeing. It’s all part of RISE, the school’s gifted and talented program.

When the legislative session begins Monday, state lawmakers will have more than 4,500 pieces of legislation they can consider. StateImpact reporters have been combing through the bills and have this preview.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The outside world was overwhelming when Robin Wertz was released from prison in 2007. Today, she helps others who are having that same experience as the site director of Exodus House, a transitional housing unit that helps people get back on their feet.

“We can’t go back out into crime-ridden drug-infested neighborhoods,” Wertz said. “We have to provide communities where they’re getting the resources they need and they’re being inspired.”

In her office, she has a file cabinet filled with neatly organized folders holding dozens of letters from prisoners hunting for a home.

Chris Landsberger / The Oklahoman

The legal fight over who is responsible, and who should pay for the national opioid crisis that has killed thousands of Americans will likely take years.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

People just released from prison could save themselves a lot of time and frustration if they talk to Robert Scott, the director of justice services at HOPE Community Services – a nonprofit that partners with the state to help people with behavioral health challenges.

Scott leads a team that helps especially vulnerable people leaving state custody get back on their feet.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Erika Buzzard Wright doesn’t hesitate to admit she doesn’t know what she’s doing.

Before today, she’s never organized a press conference or put together a media kit. That lack of experience hasn’t stopped her from trying to be a voice for rural Oklahomans who like sending their children to school four days a week instead of five.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

Some 10.8 million Americans had started vaping as of last year, according to a government study. The surge has been driven to a great degree by the immense success of Juul, by far the most popular vaping product.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Sam Keiper fidgeted in his chair in front of a classroom full of Oklahoma teachers.

Today, it was his job to educate teachers at Tulsa Tech, as part of a workshop put on by the State Department of Education for Oklahoma and advocate group Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma.

“I wanted to give a face to dyslexia, what it looks like,” Keiper said. “It can look like anybody in the room. I really wanted to inspire teachers to go get further education about dyslexia.”

Pages