prison system

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

It’s been three weeks since Sarah Sinkinson last saw her children and she’s ready for a visit from her daughter, Madeline. Sinkinson lights up as her daughter is escorted into a small visitation room and sits down at a desk opposite her.

By some accounts, nearly half of America's incarcerated population is mentally ill — and journalist Alisa Roth argues that most aren't getting the treatment they need.

Roth has visited jails in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta and a rural women's prison in Oklahoma to assess the condition of mentally ill prisoners. She says correctional officers are on the "front lines" of mental health treatment — despite the fact that they lack clinical training.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections was a frequent topic for lawmakers during this year’s legislative session. The department was given an additional $8.75 million to balance its books for fiscal year 2018 and more than $517 million for fiscal year 2019 that began July 1. 

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Oklahoma has now overtaken Louisiana as the state with the highest incarceration rate in the country, according to data from the Prison Policy Initiative.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson speaks with John Carl, a professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Oklahoma, about how the rate got so high and what kind of overhaul is in motion.

Advocates for prisoners from several groups tell NPR that White House officials have privately asked them for potential candidates for clemency, and they have offered dozens of names.

The outreach came in the wake of President Trump's recent spate of pardons and commutations — most of which were granted to public figures or individuals who had received a lot of media attention.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Poltical Consultant Neva Hill and sitting in for Ryan Kiesel is Oklahoma City Democratic Representative Forrest Bennett about arguments before the state Supreme Court on a repeal of a tax paying for raises to teachers, school support staff and state workers and a new study places Oklahoma number one in the nation and number one for countries with a population of more than 500,000 in incarceration.

The number of people incarcerated in American prisons is the lowest it's been in decades. But a new report from The Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit research group that wants to limit mass incarceration in the United States, tells a more complex story.

Bill Broiles / Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Repair crews on Tuesday restored water service to Oklahoma State Reformatory in southwestern Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials said a leak in a local water line drained the prison’s water tower Sunday night.

The leak drained multiple water towers near the town of Granite, including the prison’s. But, state prison officials say malfunctioning pumps at a nearby water treatment plant added to the problem. Without the pumps it was difficult to refill the empty water towers. 

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Canadian County Sheriff Chris West sits in a dimly lit office decorated with hunting trophies and law enforcement memorabilia. 

West is visibly frustrated when he says the Oklahoma Department of Corrections owes his county $88,691 for at least two years of jail costs — and he isn’t the only one complaining. The Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association says the state is shortchanging most counties for housing state prison inmates.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

A new dog-training facility opened this week at Oklahoma’s largest women-only prison.

Corrections officials and women enrolled in the Guardian Angels program at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McCloud have waited four years for upgrades to the facility, which now has a designated building, a new kennel and exercise area with obstacles — and a new grooming area and a walking path.

Previously, dogs were trained on the prison’s bare yard and anywhere else program officials could find space. 

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