Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

In 2016, Oklahoma voters passed two state questions intended to reduce the state’s prison population. Every year since, lawmakers have introduced bills designed to help decrease the number of people serving time.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about an awareness campaign from supporters of Medicaid Expansion as they get ready to gather signatures pending a legal challenge to their ballot initiative, Oklahoma Director of Corrections announces his retirement abruptly at a meeting Wednesday and the Pardon and Parole Board discusses implementation of House Bill 1269 which makes could reduce prison time for several Oklahomans. 

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh abruptly resigned on Wednesday, during a Board of Corrections meeting. Allbaugh said he is leaving the agency immediately and will officially retire on July 1.

Ryan LaCroix / KOSU

Oklahoma lawmakers are facing a deadline to finish their work in the next three weeks.

The most important duty before the 2019 legislature ends is crafting a budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which starts on July 1. But, so far, nothing has been released.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Cows recognize the truck that feeds them. Seconds after Terry Sue Barnett’s feed truck rumbled into their pasture, her hungry herd perked up and turned to follow her.

“Just because they know this feed truck, and they think they’re going to get fed,” Barnett said.

Barnett is in her element. She stares out of the driver’s side window as she makes a short loop through the pasture — checking the health of her animals after a wet winter and a hard calving season.

Barnett would rather be here tending her cows than back at her old job running the Nowata County Jail.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Millions of dollars to make more room in the state’s drug courts, mental health courts, and community sentencing programs could be a possibility under a bill now being considered by the Oklahoma Senate.

State Representative John Waldron wants the Legislature to authorize a new fund to pay for up to 875 additional people to be diverted into treatment programs instead of prison.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about Governor Stitt signing legislation restructuring the boards and commissions of five state agencies and giving him power to hire and fire the agency heads, the "Unity Bill" on medical marijuana passes the legislature and heads to the governor's desk and Governor Stitt calls on the State Auditor to investigate the Oklahoma Health Care Authority in regard to Medicaid.

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.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about Governor Stitt signing his first bill allowing anyone over 21 to carry a gun without a permit or training, a Senate committee passes measures to give the governor power over the hiring and firing of five state agency directors and another Senate committee passing legislation making abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade gets overturned in the US Supreme Court.

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.

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