When I was in law school, I went to Dallas for OU/Texas weekend with some friends. It was a Thursday night. We were headed home and my friend was driving. When he tried to back into a parking spot, his car collided with a cab.
The 65-year-old great grandmother was raised in Mississippi as one of nine children of sharecroppers. She eventually became a single mother and had five children of her own.
Since his conviction for a felony Drug Offense in the early 90’s, he had done everything he was supposed to do. He started a successful business. He had a family. He was a completely different person. Despite his success, he was still haunted by his conviction.
That’s changed since State leaders, starting in 2012, began to tackle the state’s long-running and costly reputation as the prison capital of the world.
In the bill now being considered by the House of Representatives, the Federal government would decriminalize cannabis by no longer classifying it as a Schedule 1 drug alongside deadly opiates like heroin and fentanyl. Cannabis would also no longer be defined as lacking medical value, according to the bill, known formally as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act.
First published in 2007, “The Innocent Man” remains Grisham’s only book of nonfiction and follows two murder cases that occurred in Ada, Oklahoma, during the 1980s. It has since also become a popular Netflix series by the same name.
The response joined a chorus of similar outcry that followed previous high-profile shootings of people of color by law enforcement. But none such protest reactions have been more sustained and widespread than what the nation witnessed after the night of May 25.
That is until surprise mercy arrived in late 2019 when his request for a commutation of his sentence was approved. A commutation reduces the sentence of someone convicted of a crime whose sentence is later determined to be excessive or unjust. Amid demands for reform from voters, the Governor’s Office of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board had fast-tracked Rawls’ application for a sentence reduction along with 461 other low level drug offenders.
The First Step Act reformed and reduced sentencing laws for certain offenses, eliminated mandatory sentencing for so-called “three-strikes” drug offenders down from life to 25 years, and gave federal judges greater discretion to decide sentences on a case-by-case basis.
A controversial death penalty case in Oklahoma is prompting fiery debate over criminal justice reform and systemic racism.
Tarra Simmons could hardly believe how far she’d come. The same prosecutor’s office in Kitsap County, Washington that once convicted her of drug offenses and sent her to prison had just endorsed her candidacy for the state legislature. In November, she will be a contender for Washington’s district 23 - a far cry from the prison yard at Mission Creek Correctional where she served a 30 month sentence.
It happened after the 2008 financial crisis when millions of Americans lost their jobs. It happened in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey wrought devastation on the southeastern United States and turned local communities into debris.
For decades, this question was a near-universal feature of U.S. job applications. Employers came to widely depend on the question for screening applicants, often relying only on the existence of a criminal past rather than the applicant’s knowledge, skill, and experience, to make a hiring determination.
The US Supreme Court handed down a major decision yesterday in McGirt v. Oklahoma that could fundamentally alter the criminal justice system in eastern Oklahoma. The case is based on a question of jurisdiction: Did the State of Oklahoma have the right to prosecute a major crime committed by a tribal member if the crime was committed on a reservation? To decide, justices had to determine if the area was still legally a reservation of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
We made this guide to help clarify what options are available for expungement in Oklahoma. This is not a substitute for qualified legal advice, but we hope it will show more Oklahomans that expungement may be an option for them.
Facing pressure from justice advocates and lawmakers, the Small Business Administration has announced key changes to its rules regulating who is eligible for accessing COVID-related stimulus funds from Washington.
Many Oklahomans are familiar with the horrific 1980’s era murders of Ada residents Denise Haraway and Debbie Carter. The shocking brutality of the crimes and the relative tranquility of the small town they occurred in created a media sensation, and immense pressure to find the killers.
Following a unanimous vote, the North Carolina General Assembly has joined 30 other states, including Oklahoma, in passing a record number of bills over 2019 and 2020 that make it easier for people with criminal records to expunge past mistakes and move on with their lives.
In fact, a criminal record in America leads to an endless array of restrictions and outright prohibitions on voting, obtaining college and small-business loans, and finding employment.
It took hardly the blink of an eye for 16-year-old Cyntoia Brown to pull the trigger of a handgun her pimp had given her and end the life of a 43-year-old man she said paid $150 to have sex with her. Tennessee Prosecutors said she ruthlessly robbed and murdered the man. She was sentenced to life in prison.
An estimated one in three Americans have some sort of criminal record. Vincent Bragg is one of them. In 2001, he was convicted of running a multimillion-dollar drug empire and spent five years in prison for it. After he was released, he wanted to turn his life around, so he did what many Americans do: he started his own business.
Felons in the United States face everyday barriers not experienced by most Americans. They endure restrictions on jury service, participating in elections, purchasing a firearm, accessing higher education, obtaining housing, and perhaps most importantly, acquiring the professional licenses and certifications often required for select career paths in the United States.
Shortly after taking over as director of the FBI in 1987, career civil servant and former federal judge William Sessions found himself in a difficult position. The then-Democratic senator of Oklahoma, David Boren, wanted him to expunge thousands of classified FBI documents totalling over 10,000 pages of bureau records.
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The Sooner State’s rate of incarceration was an eye-popping 80 percent higher than the rest of the nation in 2014, and an estimated one of every 12 people in Oklahoma is a convicted felon. As a result, Oklahomans are more likely to have criminal records that serve as barriers to re-entering public life than people in other states. So when voters in Oklahoma four years ago began passing a series of criminal-justice reform laws, the message was clear: the grim statistics were no longer sustainable for both taxpayers and convicts and their loved ones.
The State of Oklahoma’s historically strict approach to law and order has culminated in an incarceration rate today that vastly outpaces that of the rest of the United States and all other developed countries, making it one of the most punitive places on earth. Its out-sized prisoner and convict populations are attributable in part to Oklahoma’s long, bruising, and failed war on drugs, which has now impacted generations of people.
A DUI can complicate many parts of your life, including your ability to get a job or an apartment. If you have a DUI arrest or conviction that is causing you problems, an expungement may be the answer.
Even a misdemeanor conviction can cause you serious problem long after your conviction. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor that has led to issues with jobs, housing, or school, an expungement may be the answer.
House Bill 1269 would require the re-sentencing of drug offenders convicted before State Question 780 went into effect on July 1, 2017. The bill would apply to inmates whose crimes were reclassified from felonies to misdemeanors by the referendum. There are around 1,300 Oklahomans currently incarcerated for simple drug possession.
The US Supreme Court has applied the 8th Amendment to states and prohibits excessive fines and restricts civil forfeitures:
When I worked as a prosecutor, my approach for non-violent defendants was rehabilitation, not incarceration. Incarceration does not rehabilitate a person who has a drug problem and once a person who is incarcerated for a drug-related/induced offense is released from prison, they don’t have the tools necessary to get meaningful employment or reintegrate into society.