criminal justice

The U.S. Justice Department is offering state, municipal and tribal public safety agencies across the country money to help respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oklahoma agencies could get more than $11 million to pay for agencies’ response to the coronavirus. Overtime pay for police and medical personnel, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and medical care for prisoners are examples of allowed expenses. Agencies can even use the money to make up for past coronavirus expenses dating back to late January.

Matthew Ansley / Unsplash

Fewer people are being arrested and sent to jail in the United States, but Oklahoma seems to defy the trend.

Flickr / Wesley Fryer

Criminal justice reform advocates are doubling down on their requests to send some state prisoners home during the Coronavirus pandemic. They want the Governor Kevin Stitt to approve the releases for more than 280 prisoners.

The state Pardon and Parole Board already recommended the prisoners' sentences be commuted and Stitt has mostly agreed with the board's recommendations in the past.

Washita-Custer County Treatment Court

Recovering from drug addiction requires personal accountability, but that’s hard to do from home. So, Oklahoma drug courts have to innovate to maintain service and a social distance.

Women in prison, when compared with incarcerated men, often receive disproportionately harsh punishments for minor violations of prison rules, according to a report released Wednesday by a federal fact-finding agency.

Shane Brown

Allison Herrera’s reporting was made possible by the Pulitzer Foundation’s Crisis Reporting Fund.

The law known as “enabling child abuse” has been criticized for its unfair sentencing, particularly regarding women. Advocates for criminal justice reform and women’s rights in the state of Oklahoma say that women bear the brunt of the punishment while men walk away with lesser sentences.

Courtesy of Anna Koski

Allison Herrera's reporting was supported by the Pulitzer Foundation.

Elizabeth Crafton got a 20-year sentence for failing to protect her young daughter from abuse. Her boyfriend, who was convicted of abuse in the case, received an 11-year sentence. It’s just one example of how women bear the brunt of a criminal justice system some in Oklahoma feel have gone too far.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The last executions in Oklahoma were embarrassing failures.

Before he died, Clayton Lockett writhed and moaned on his gurney. Charles Warner said his body was “on fire.” Richard Glossip’s execution had to be called off at the last minute.

Governor Kevin Stitt commuted prison sentences for 147 people Friday who were convicted of crimes that Oklahoma voters chose to make misdemeanors.

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.