Special Acknowledgment

A heartfelt thank you to the individual storytellers who trusted us to hear and share their experiences of Oklahoma’s criminal justice system, and how it impacted their personal, professional, and family lives. This research project would not have been possible without you.

Project Team

Authors
Felicity Rose
jasmine Sankofa
Alison Silveira

Contributors
Precious Edmonds
Brian Elderbroom
Josie Halpern-Finnerty
Jamil Hamilton
Famata Jalloh
Elissa Johnson
Matt Lochman
LaGloria Wheatfall

Web Design
Luis Espino
Patronage
Precision Strategies

Methodology Overview

This report is the result of months of qualitative and quantitative research on the effect of five years of reforms, the ongoing drivers of Oklahoma’s stubbornly high incarceration rates, and the personal stories of people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. FWD.us and its partners in Oklahoma conducted interviews and focus groups with nearly 100 practitioners, experts, advocates, and directly impacted people, reviewed dozens of written submissions from currently incarcerated people, and analyzed several years of local and state corrections data as part of this research.

Quantitative Research

The quantitative research for this report is based on analysis of data from the Department of Corrections, as well as data collected and analyzed by several partner organizations. Several partner organizations, including Open Justice Oklahoma and ProsperOK, provided additional research and analytic support for the findings in this report. Unless otherwise noted, the data presented in this report stems from analysis of individual-level data files provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. For a more detailed methodology, please consult the full text version of Turning the Page.

Qualitative Research

The qualitative research for this report is based on conversations with 95 people through a series of focus groups and individual and group interviews conducted between February and July of 2022, and a review of written submissions from dozens of people currently incarcerated in women’s prisons in Oklahoma.

Each person provided verbal or written consent to publish the stories shared in this report. To ensure privacy, stories are anonymized or pseudonyms are used for some directly impacted people.

Many organizations and programs helped make qualitative research possible, including Block Builderz, Women in Recovery, Center for Employment Opportunities, Just the Beginning, Project Commutation, TEEM, George Kaiser Family Foundation, ReMerge, Poetic Justice, and Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.

Data Appendix

The following table lists median bond amounts for people accused of a misdemeanor or felony in counties across Oklahoma, as well as the total amount of bond posted and estimated fees paid on that bond. As a result of high bond amounts, people in Oklahoma paid more than $13 million in bond fees to bail bonds agents in just one year across these 11 counties.

Click To View Table

The following table lists imprisonment rates, average sentence terms, and the change in admissions to prison for drug and property crimes following the enactment of SQ 780 for each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. Values have been excluded for counties with fewer than ten admissions to prison in FY 2016. N/A is listed for counties where there were no relevant admissions from which to calculate average sentences.

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The following table lists imprisonment rates, average sentence terms, and the change in admissions to prison for drug and property crimes following the enactment of SQ 780 for each of Oklahoma’s 27 DA Districts.

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The following table is for the Failing to Protect issue brief and compares Oklahoma’s sentences for child abuse, child neglect, and child endangerment to its neighboring states.

Click To View Table

About FWD.us

FWD.us is a bipartisan political organization that believes America’s families, communities, and economy thrive when everyone has the opportunity to achieve their full potential. For too long, our broken immigration and criminal justice systems have locked too many people out from the American dream. Founded by leaders in the technology and business communities, we seek to grow and galvanize political support to break through partisan gridlock and achieve meaningful reforms. Together, we can move America forward.

For more information, please visit FWD.us.