State Question 780

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about the commutation of more than 500 prisoners in state custody, the concerns growing from law enforcement and citizens over permitless carry and the State Supreme Court listening to the challenge of a controversial alcohol distribution law.

More than 450 prison inmates behind bars for low-level and non-violent charges were released Monday across the state of Oklahoma.

It's believed these commutations mark the most prisoner releases on a single day in the history of the U.S. — the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Matt Trotter / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Hundreds of Oklahomans serving felony sentences for crimes that are now misdemeanors were freed on Monday.

Voters reclassified drug possession and property crimes less than $1,000 in 2016, but the changes didn’t apply to people convicted beforehand until a new law took effect Friday. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended 527 people for commutations that day, with 462 eligible to be released Monday.

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The state of Oklahoma plans to release hundreds of prisoners Monday after their sentences were reduced by the state's Pardon and Parole Board. 462 state prisoners could be sent home, which would represent the nation's largest single day commutation.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Multiple polls show the majority of Oklahoma voters support criminal justice reforms.

Survey data commissioned by Oklahoma Public Radio stations for the Oklahoma Engaged project also suggest a majority of voters believe the state’s sentencing laws need to be reworked.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Criminal justice measures moving through the legislative process got a boost this week as Gov. Kevin Stitt announced a new initiative Wednesday focused on giving offenders second chances.

LLUDO / FLICKR (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about accusations of thousands of dollars in back child support against House Appropriations Chairman Kevin Wallace, legislators are heading into the 2019 session with more than 2,800 bills and one of those is a bipartisan measure to make State Question 780 retroactive.

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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