criminal justice

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With a huge freshman class and a promise for less gridlock, Oklahoma lawmakers filed more than 2,800 bills this legislative session. With a third of the session now over, the StateImpact team has an update on some bills we’re following.

 

Health

 

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tracy Smallwood says her life before she went to prison was just “dead time.”

“I was always in a room just getting high,” Smallwood explained. “But there’s so much more. So much more out there.

Smallwood tries to hold back tears in her two-bedroom apartment north of downtown Tulsa. Today, she’s an active church member, she’s in a 12-step recovery program and she works as a forklift operator. However, a few months ago, she was in prison for multiple drug-related convictions.

San Francisco officials plan to expunge more than 9,000 marijuana convictions dating back to 1975, the city's highest law enforcement official said Monday.

Latosha Poston says she made a lot of mistakes in her life. Her legal troubles began in her teens after her first child was born in Indianapolis. Over the years, bad decisions led to some arrests, some convictions.

"Sometimes we get stuck in our past and let our past guide us," she says.

The 44-year-old has worked hard to straighten out her life. But her criminal records — all involving misdemeanors — continued to haunt her as she tried to find a decent job and place to live.

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

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