criminal justice

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

More than 30 people sit uncomfortably on hard, wooden benches under the watchful eyes of Judge Tim Henderson. It’s late morning in Henderson’s courtroom at the Oklahoma County courthouse. Some people have been waiting for hours.

Most of these people are on probation, and they’re anxiously waiting for their chance to make a deal. Judge Henderson says these people broke their plea agreements.

COMING TO TERMS

Flickr / Wesley Fryer

The Oklahoma House approved legislation on Tuesday that reduces sentences for property crimes like larceny and forgery.

Republican Terry O’Donnell of Catoosa authored the bill. He says it will lower the state's overall incarceration rate and the number of women in prison — many of which are convicted for non-violent crimes like writing bad checks.

O'Donnell's office says prison admissions for property crimes grew by almost 30 percent recent years. The average sentence for those convictions has also increased over time.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Governor Mary Fallin urged lawmakers to find compromise and steer clear of budgetary and legislative chaos in her final State of the State address at the Oklahoma capitol on Monday. The speech laid out a number of Fallin's priorities for the legislative session.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Twenty years is a long time to live with a drug addiction, but Rachel Wachel has done it. She tends bar, has a house and a car — and calls herself a functioning addict.

“I’m very open and honest about it because what do you do besides try to work with it the best way you can,” she says, exiting an an Oklahoma County courtroom.

Wachel’s lawyer is working to get her a suspended sentence for a misdemeanor drug possession charge. She’s addicted to opiate painkillers and says she takes half a pill three times a day.

Inside A Judge's Rehab: Unpaid Work At An Oklahoma Coca-Cola Plant

Dec 4, 2017
Shane Bevel / Reveal

Retired Oklahoma Judge Thomas Landrith is hailed as a hero of criminal justice reform.

He started the first rural drug court in the nation and has reaped awards for sending defendants to treatment rather than prison. Most judges in the state model their drug courts after his.

But Landrith also is involved in a more sinister byproduct of criminal justice reform.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and, sitting in for Ryan Kiesel, Stillwater Democratic Representative Cory Williams about the House failing to pass a Republican plan to fix the shortfall in the budget, House Minority Leader Scott Inman announcing his resignation from the state legislature as well as dropping out of the governor's race and the State Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional a law which would have added fees on to electric and hybrid vehicles.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to a receptive audience Thursday when he addressed members of the Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association at Rose State College in Midwest City.

Sessions said law enforcement nationwide is dealing with an increase in the violent crime rate, gangs, the opioid epidemic and threats of terrorism. Sessions says these issues are combined with cultural changes that concern him.

Chicken Workers Sue, Saying They Were Modern-Day Slaves

Oct 12, 2017
Shane Bevel / Reveal

Three Oklahoma men filed a federal class-action lawsuit today alleging that they were modern-day slaves forced by a drug rehabilitation program to work for free in chicken processing plants.

How An Oklahoma Drug Court Rehab Kept Its Participants' Workers' Comp

Oct 9, 2017
Shane Bevel / Reveal

After Fred Barbee broke his ankle while working at a chicken processing plant in Arkansas, he expected time off to heal.

But he wasn’t in a normal workplace. A drug court judge in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had sent Barbee to a drug rehabilitation program called Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery, or CAAIR. The program makes men work without pay at plants owned by Simmons Foods Inc.

They Thought They Were Going To Rehab. They Ended Up In Chicken Plants

Oct 4, 2017
Gabriel Hongsdusit / Reveal

The worst day of Brad McGahey's life was the day a judge decided to spare him from prison.

McGahey was 23 with dreams of making it big in rodeo, maybe starring in his own reality TV show. With a 1.5 GPA, he'd barely graduated from high school. He had two kids and mounting child support debt. Then he got busted for buying a stolen horse trailer, fell behind on court fines and blew off his probation officer.

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