criminal justice

President Trump delivered a wide-ranging State of the Union address Tuesday night that went an hour and 21 minutes. That's the third-longest ever.

So what should we make of Trump's third address to Congress, and in a year when Democrats are gearing up for a crowded primary to decide who will face Trump in 2020?

1. Trump did not acknowledge the new political reality in Washington

ok.gov

Gov. Kevin Stitt stood before the Oklahoma legislature to deliver his first State of the State address Monday. He outlined key pieces of his executive budget for fiscal year 2020. The legislature will craft its own budget during the 2019 legislative session.

Executive Power

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Two state lawmakers filed a bipartisan bill Thursday to make State Question 780 retroactive.

The 2016 ballot initiative reclassified felony drug possession and some felony property crimes often associated with addiction as misdemeanors. Generally, the most severe sentence for a misdemeanor conviction is a year in county jail.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

People enrolled in the Oklahoma County Drug Court have to report to a lab for drug tests. Judge Kenneth Stoner tells more than a dozen men and women sitting on the hard wooden benches of his courtroom that if the lab is open, they have to go. 

Even if there’s a snow storm, he said. “Get snowshoes — find a dog sled team.”

Drug court participant Matt Hall says drug court comes with strict deadlines. “You signed up for the program, so you have to be accountable to do all these things in order to get sobriety,” he said.

Brianna Bailey / The Frontier

The City of Oklahoma City said it will take action if an ongoing U.S. Department of Labor investigation into the Firstep recovery program finds the program has violated any laws.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Twenty-nineteen means a new governor for Oklahoma and a fresh class of state legislators — nearly 40 percent of whom have zero political experience. It’s a new year, but the state government’s slate hasn’t been wiped clean.

Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest policy issues on deck for the upcoming year and legislative session.

Energy & Environment

The inside of one of the buildings at Washington Corrections Center for Women looks like a prep site for a construction project. It's full of cinder blocks, wheelbarrows, and large standing wood frames. About a dozen inmates wearing orange safety vests and hardhats are pounding nails into the frames.

Steve Petermann is the instructor keeping watch. "There's a method here," Petermann says. "They have to do so many nails in so many minutes and they have to [pound] those nails down, on the side, and overhead."

Updated on Dec. 20 at 2:40 p.m. ET

A bipartisan bill aimed at overhauling federal prisons and reducing recidivism has been overwhelmingly approved by Congress.

The legislation is now on the verge of becoming law, with the House's approval on Thursday, the Senate's passage on Tuesday and the backing of President Trump.

Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan previously voiced support for the legislative package, pledging that the House was "ready to get it done." They later passed the measure by a 358-36 margin.

Updated on Dec. 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET

The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would reduce federal sentences for certain drug offenses and prepare prisoners for life after incarceration.

If the bill becomes law following passage in the House on Wednesday, a major reason will be the support it received from a surprising booster: President Trump.

Brianna Bailey / The Frontier

Dustin Misener started using drugs in his early teens growing up in rural Oklahoma. By his 30s, he was battling an addiction to methamphetamine and had racked up multiple drug-related convictions in Oklahoma.

“I was just getting out there pretty bad,” Misener said.

Misener, 32, is a U.S. Army veteran. Now he works cutting grass and setting up stage equipment for concerts. His hands are lined and calloused from a life of hard work.

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