Criminal Justice

On today's ST, we are discussing a new book on race relations and American history that offers a bold, thorough, and eye-opening critique of our nation's criminal justice apparatus, its police operations, and indeed its entire legal system. Our guest is the well-regarded historian Elizabeth Hinton, who is an associate professor of history and African American studies at Yale University as well as a professor of law at Yale Law School.

Chris Polansky / KWGS News

Oklahoma's senior U.S. Senator, Jim Inhofe, visited the Tulsa Fallen Officers' Memorial at the Tulsa Police Academy Friday to recognize National Police Week and announce legislation that would provide federal funding to help train law enforcement officers in dealing with individuals experiencing mental illness.

"There's a lot of opposition to law enforcement," Inhofe said. "It's just unbelievable that there is. We thought we would get out where people could see us and really understand what this is all about."

Organizations Gather to Support Victims of Crime

Apr 23, 2021

The US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma hosted a “Day of Hope” Friday at Tulsa’s Promenade Mall.

The purpose was to pass safety and victim resources to the public. One organization in attendance was Coffee Bunker, a nonprofit advocating for veterans. Coffee Bunker Chaplain Greg Bilbruck said for him the event was about solidarity.

“We’re out here with the United States Attorney’s Office, the Sherriff’s Office, Muscogee Creek Nation. We’re here just to support victims and try to get justice for them,” said Bilbruck.  

Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A 65-year-old woman has died in the Oklahoma County jail, making her the sixth inmate to die at the lockup this year, a jail official said Wednesday.

The woman, whose name was not released, suffered undisclosed health issues and was under suicide watch when jail staff saw her arm go limp Tuesday night and called medical personnel, who pronounced her dead, according to jail spokesman Mac Mullings.

Oklahoma Watch

When U.S. Department of Justice investigators inspected the Oklahoma County Detention Center in April 2007, they discovered that severe overcrowding was causing significant harm to detainees. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Hardesty Family Foundation has awarded Mental Health Association Oklahoma a $900,000 grant to keep criminal justice programs going another two years.

Funding will support initiatives like a special services docket that puts case managers in touch with people facing misdemeanor charges often related to homelessness, housing for people who were homeless because of untreated mental illness, and mental health training for law enforcement officers and others involved in the justice system.

Facebook / Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City police officers fatally shot a detainee who took a correctional officer hostage at the county jail Saturday, authorities said.

Officers had tried to deescalate the situation at the Oklahoma County Detention Center, but authorities fired their weapons after the suspect held something against the neck of the hostage, Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson III said during a news conference.

Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

This story was updated at 2:37 p.m. to include comment from the Tulsa County District Attorney's office received after initial publication.

Tulsa County must pay $175,000, the maximum allowed under statute, to a Tulsa man who suffered injuries during a 2016 incident in which Tulsa County Jail detention officers violently handled him, a jury has found.

Image Credit: The National Judicial College

Earlier this year, in its landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that, regarding the Major Crimes Act, much of the eastern part of our state remains as Native American land, since that land was never disestablished by Congress. So, how is McGirt playing out now in court rooms and legal offices across Oklahoma? And what does the immediate future hold vis a vis the McGirt ruling? Our guest is Aila Hoss, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa College of Law.

Facebook / Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Two former Oklahoma jail employees and their supervisor face misdemeanor cruelty charges after investigators found they forced inmates to stand handcuffed for hours and listen to the children’s song “Baby Shark” on repeat, a prosecutor said Monday.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Unborn children are included in the definition of a “child” for purposes of prosecuting child neglect cases, an Oklahoma appeals court ruled on Thursday.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals overturned a lower court ruling in a case involving Kearline Datara Anderson of Rogers County who was charged with child neglect after state prosecutors alleged she used illegal drugs while she was pregnant.

Facebook / Governor Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday added a state question on criminal justice to the Nov. 3 Election Day ballot.

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Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter filed a brief on Monday asking the state Court of Criminal Appeals for guidance on cases affected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v Oklahoma.

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Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a surprising 5-4 decision in the case of McGirt v. Oklahoma; the Court ruled that much of the eastern half of Oklahoma is still an Indian reservation. In doing so, the Court affirmed that -- because Congress had not expressly disestablished the Muskogee Creek Reservation, which was created well over a century ago -- that Reservation still exists when it comes to the Federal Major Crimes Act.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma court is expected to rule Thursday on an appeal by a man who was convicted in the fatal stabbings of five family members when he was 16. 

Michael Bever, 21, is asking the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to change his sentence to allow him to eventually become eligible for parole. 

KWGS News File Photo

With attorneys and loved ones prohibited from visiting detainees at the Tulsa County Jail due to the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus, the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office says it is waiving video visitation fees for communications between attorneys and clients in custody. 
 

The Tulsa County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved an amendment to the county’s contract with Tech Friends, Inc., the Arkansas-based company that manages the jail’s video visitation system.

We chat with Todd F. Buchwald, who served as Special Coordinator for the U.S. State Department's Office of Global Criminal Justice from December 2015 through July 2017, and was conferred the rank of Ambassador by President Obama in July 2016. Prior to this, Mr. Buchwald served as a lawyer in the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser, including a stint as the Assistant Legal Adviser for Political-Military Affairs during the Clinton and Bush Administrations.

Our guest is Michael Brose, the longtime Chief Empowerment Officer at Mental Health Association Oklahoma (or MHAOK). Brose joins us to discuss this important nonprofit's ongoing work to secure permanent housing for the homeless throughout our city and our state. Per the MHAOK website: "The Association's statewide work is dedicated to promoting mental health and the equity of access to mental health care through advocacy, education, research, service, and housing. Since 1955, we have worked toward this goal.

(Note: This installment of ST Medical Monday originally aired last summer.) It's taken a while for this particular truth to sink in, but America finally seems to be waking up to it: People with mental illness don't need to be locked up -- they need to be treated. On this edition of our show, we speak with journalist Alisa Roth, whose book, "Insane," is a well-regarded and alarming exposé of the mental health crisis now facing our courts, jails, and prisons. As was noted  of this book by The New York Times Book Review: "Chilling....

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we're discussing court fees, court fines, collection costs, and other court-related expenses, which, all told, make up somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of the budget for the State of Oklahoma's court system. Therefore, and quite regrettably, our state's jails are by now brimming with people whose only "crime" is being unable to pay such costs.