criminal justice

Our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged is not only focused on informative and in-depth radio stories. We also want to strip away extraneous information and get down to the bare bones of state questions on the November 3rd ballot.


Oklahoma voters are being asked whether they want to change the state’s constitution to ban a method of increasing prison sentences for people convicted of nonviolent crimes. The measure is asking voters to take a deep look into Oklahoma’s sentencing laws.

In 1999, Christopher Vialva hitched a ride with a married couple visiting West Texas for a church revival meeting.

Authorities later found the bodies of Todd and Stacie Bagley in the trunk of their car. Todd Bagley died of a gunshot wound. Stacie Bagley died of smoke inhalation after the car was set on fire.

On Thursday, 20 years after he was convicted of that brutal crime, Vialva is scheduled to face lethal injection. His case stands out only because he's like most inmates on federal death row: a Black man who murdered white people, when he was very young.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about a criminal justice reform group calling on Governor Kevin Stitt and the Department of Corrections to take steps to stem the spread of COVID-19, Tulsa City Council unanimously approved a new Hate Crimes ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity and the state Supreme Court denies Stitt's request for a rehearing on its decision over tribal gaming compacts.



There are now at least four state prisoners who have died after a COVID-19 diagnosis. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections reported two more deaths Monday night.

What it took for Curtis Flowers, a Black man who spent some 23 years behind bars, to have charges dropped against him: six trials plagued by prosecutor misconduct, multiple overturned convictions, and a dogged investigation by a podcast into a quadruple murder at a Mississippi furniture store.

Now, more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Flowers' latest conviction, prosecutors have decided to stop pursuing the case.


Oklahoma’s most populous county is set to spend the bulk of a federal coronavirus relief package on its faulty jail. The decision has raised questions about how CARES Act money should be spent.

For four nights, speakers at the Republican National Convention pilloried Democrat Joe Biden over his alleged weakness on crime and painted a dystopian future if he were to be elected in November.

Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council

Last week, a criminal justice advisory group in Oklahoma County reported that in the 2020 fiscal year, the county jail’s prisoner population reached its lowest levels in more than a decade.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The pandemic is making the already difficult process of building a new life after prison even more challenging. Government offices in charge of issuing legal identification closed at the start of the pandemic and now they’re taking longer than usual to deliver documents many former prisoners need to get jobs.