Leslie and Colleen give a short update on April's case, the efforts in Oklahoma to bring justice to survivors, and the activities happening in Oklahoma next week to support HB 1639, a bill that will help people who were victims of domestic violence at the time of their crime get sentencing relief.
Colleen McCarty, Leslie Briggs
Leslie Briggs 00:17
Colleen McCarty 00:18
Leslie Briggs 00:19
welcome back to the studio.
Colleen McCarty 00:21
I'm so glad to be back here. Bison & Bean with you.
Leslie Briggs 00:25
It's been too long.
Colleen McCarty 00:26
It's been a wild ride,
Leslie Briggs 00:28
guys, we have updates.
Colleen McCarty 00:30
We have so many updates. We never sleep. So
Leslie Briggs 00:34
we do not sleep. It's gnarly. I'm so tired.
Colleen McCarty 00:38
We don't wish this on you. But we're happy to give you all the updates and all the work we've been doing for the last six months since we wrapped our last episode of panic button. The April Wilkins case. Yeah. What's been happening?
Leslie Briggs 00:51
Well, I came to work for you. Oh, that's
Colleen McCarty 00:53
right. Pretty sweet. That
Leslie Briggs 00:56
happened a little while ago. So yeah, I'm the new legal director at OK Appleseed, the nonprofit that puts on the panic button podcast. What do you do at Oklahoma Appleseed, Lesley. Well, I try to execute your vision. protect the rights of every Oklahoman. We're doing a lot of cool stuff. Really.
Colleen McCarty 01:14
Oh my gosh, I know every day I wake up and I'm like, I can't believe I get to do this for a job. And
Leslie Briggs 01:19
me too. I love it so much. Yeah, chaotic, and awesome. Just like us just like just a good time, dude,
Colleen McCarty 01:28
seriously, we strive for a good time. And seeking justice at the same time. Right. And so in service of seeking justice, we we did this big story about April's case that all of you have heard and I hope it has lit a fire under you because it lit a fire under us. And in service of seeking justice for her. We wrote what's called a post conviction relief application. And I'm going to let Leslie talk to you about what that means and and how we're trying to help her get out of prison.
Leslie Briggs 01:57
Yeah, we actually wound up doing that throughout the fall before I came on full time with OK Appleseed. And it's based on new evidence that we uncovered. And we believe that evidence warrants a new trial, or a vacation or sentence, or modification to time served. And that's what we've asked the court to do. We were we lost at the district court, you can go and read all of the pleadings online if you're a legal nerd, or you just want to know more about what the evidence was that we found, but it's currently on appeal. We appealed that district court decision to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. And if we lose there, we're going to take it all the way to the top.
Colleen McCarty 02:39
How long does it usually take to hear back from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals?
Leslie Briggs 02:43
Oh, I mean, I don't know what the what an average time is, but probably several months, I imagine will be on appeal through the summer at least. And then maybe have a decision at the end of the summer.
Colleen McCarty 02:55
Have you talked to April about how she's feeling about all of this?
Leslie Briggs 02:59
I think April, I mean, April has been through every possible legal hurdle, multiple times. I mean, she has this is her third post conviction relief application. And she's been through the appellate process before so April kind of knows how to temper expectations and just see what happens more than anything, though. I think April is extremely motivated and excited about the other work we've been doing, which I'm hoping you'll ever give everyone an update about which is our legislative push to change the system.
Colleen McCarty 03:32
Yeah, so the nice thing about Oklahoma Appleseed is that we work across multiple sectors of the legal system. So we have been working on multiple fronts to bring justice to April and people like her. That's one of the nice things about the Appleseed model is we work on multiple fronts of the legal system. So we can work in the courts for direct advocacy. But then we also work at the legislative level, and the legal research level and the community organizing level and this project with April and criminalized survivorship in Oklahoma has kind of touched all four of those areas in different ways. We were really trying to think outside the box about how we could help April but not just her but everyone in her situation. And we started looking around the country to see what other folks have been doing. And we found this big group in New York that passed a bill called the domestic violence survivor Justice Act, and that has helped several people since it was passed in 2019. Essentially, people who are in prison who can show proof that they were abused at the time of their crime and that the abuse was substantially related to the crime can apply to their sentencing court and receive sentencing relief or a lower sentence. So we thought about how we could make that something that was really made for Oklahomans by Oklahomans. And we worked with a bunch of groups here in Oklahoma to sort of figure out what survivors need. And we also got several survey responses from over 100 survivors and an Oklahoma prison here where April is called Mabel Bassett. And we've started to put together really what these experiences look like, and how these people are being prosecuted for crimes that stem from their survivorship. And we worked together to come up with some language that we thought would formulate a nice law change here in Oklahoma that would give a lot of these people sentencing relief, but then would also provide a mitigation procedure for people who are currently being prosecuted that can show they can show in a sentencing hearing any evidence that they have of their abuse and get a shorter sentence on the front end of the system, too. So it's not just a retroactive reform, it will do both things which we were pretty excited about putting this together back in the fall, and we were not sure where it was going to go. And then we heard back from a Republican legislator in Oklahoma named Toni Hasenbeck, who's from Elgin, Oklahoma, and she is a fierce champion for women's rights. And she was very disturbed by some of the stories that we were hearing from survivors in prison. And she agreed to author this bill for us.
Leslie Briggs 06:22
So Bill have a number. The bill does have finally
Colleen McCarty 06:24
has a number. It's HB 1639. It's starting in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. And it will be traveling through it's been introduced, and it has language and we expect it to be heard in committee. Next Wednesday, which is the 28th of February, the year of our Lord 2023. At 10:30am. In the rotunda
Leslie Briggs 06:49
Be there or be square. Yeah, right. Yes. We want you to come join us. We have we're doing a ton of stuff at the Capitol next week in celebration and advocacy of this monumental and historic effort that Rep. Hasenbeck is undertaking and Colleen's gonna give you some of those deets.
Colleen McCarty 07:08
Yeah, so we'd love to see anyone who's in the Oklahoma City area next week. We have two capital days that volunteers are free to come and meet us in the Supreme Court hallway. We will have water and snacks and talking points and anything you will need to be prepared to speak to your legislators. That date is February 27. We will start advocating at nine and probably be there all day until five. There's a bus leaving from Tulsa, Oklahoma from OSU Tulsa downtown. That will leave at 830 and arrive to the Capitol at about 10 and leave the Capitol at about three and be back by 430 to make sure everyone can pick up their kids and things like that. So if you need a ride, do not hesitate to hop on the just bus just bus I named it myself if I'm really proud of it.
Leslie Briggs 08:05
Colleen McCarty 08:06
just bus or bust.
Leslie Briggs 08:10
Say that three times. Dude, that just bus bust just bear in Tulsa. You do not want to miss that just but
Colleen McCarty 08:21
I feel like we're gonna I'm gonna set everybody up with a playlist and it's gonna be fire so far. So get on the bus or don't drive your ass down there.
Leslie Briggs 08:30
I don't care. We want to see you there, though.
Colleen McCarty 08:32
We want to see all of your faces, even if it's like, I'm just here because I listen to the podcast. I don't care. I want you there.
Leslie Briggs 08:38
Yeah, we want you there. We think that I mean, just to support this bill to support what rep Hasselbeck is trying to achieve. For survivors of domestic violence in the state of Oklahoma. It's I mean, it's historic. It's something that we need
Colleen McCarty 08:52
it is we just found out that the 2020 numbers showed that more women in Oklahoma are killed by their partners than any other state except one. So we're second in the nation for the number of women being killed by their intimate partners. But then we also know on the flip side, when those survivors rarely are the ones that live in an altercation like that. They're getting life and 30 years and 40 years in prison. And it's not a rare situation.
Leslie Briggs 09:19
Yeah. Which is actually kind of a good segue. But it's a good segue into
Colleen McCarty 09:25
our teaser, we're previewing also today this season two for
Leslie Briggs 09:31
season two, panic button, season two. Should we say the title?
Colleen McCarty 09:35
Yeah, we should say the title. That's a good title.
Leslie Briggs 09:38
Colleen McCarty 09:40
Yep. Panic Button. Season two Operation Wildfire. We can't spoiler you tonight about why it's called that.
Leslie Briggs 09:47
No sport. Yeah, no, absolutely no spoilers, but we'll just say this that like the question. I think that season two is going to be exploring is a lot of people. Plenty of people We'll have rightly asked, Why didn't April just leave? Like, I think that that's not an a strange question to wonder? Like, why didn't April just get out and get away? And so season two, I think is gonna we're gonna really get to explore what happens when they when someone does. What happens when someone gets away? Yeah. What happens to the abuser? What happens to that person? And
Colleen McCarty 10:25
yeah, I also think it speaks to what happens when people band together to try to stop a violent person. Yeah. And the power in that but also the questions that that kind of like causes
Leslie Briggs 10:43
the obstacles, the challenges and then yeah, like the I think yeah, questions about tactics, questions about results, questions about, I think systemic. I guess failings is the word. But it doesn't seem to really do it justice. It's more like systemic. Like I'm thinking of, well, my sink is broken right now. So it's like, clogs, right? And like the way that the system is just clogged and can't function and you can't get get get the water through to the pipes on the down on this metaphor. It's working. With all these hand motions of sink troubles right now, what's top of mind. But
Colleen McCarty 11:26
I think also, it's just like, this is gonna sound like a rant. But for the majority of human history, people were just killing each other, and there were no consequences. Then we had a little bit of human history where the only consequences for any wrongdoing were death, and everyone's getting killed. And then it was like, Okay, well, we can't kill everybody. So let's wind that back a little bit, and just put people in prison for a really long time. But now, we're to this point where it's like, the only real violence at mass scale that happens in our society is violence against women. And there's really Yeah.
Leslie Briggs 12:08
What about like mass shootings?
Colleen McCarty 12:10
I mean, sure, that is a totally different crime type than what we're talking. Yeah. Yeah. Like a domestic violence call is made every second in America,
Leslie Briggs 12:22
right? I mean, we've seen the data here in Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City, our largest metropolitan area. Yeah. So
Colleen McCarty 12:28
43,000 domestic violence calls made in 2021. And less than 1000 of those lead to arrest. And so it just starts to ask this question about like, this is the most prevalent type of violence that the system is the most bad at responding to
Leslie Briggs 12:46
that I agree with wholeheartedly. Like this violence is so prevalent, and our system doesn't effectively curtail it, or really even punish it, which it's a punitive system. I mean, if it does nothing, well, it punishes people. Well. Yeah, that's this,
Colleen McCarty 13:06
but not this. And then it's like, there are just so many ways to get away with it. Right. And the people who know how to get away with it, get away with really get away with it so much, really get away with it. And it's startling, it really is because like I come from criminal justice reform, where everyone's getting punished for every goddamn thing. Yeah. Yeah. And we're trying to stop people for getting punished as much as they are. Yeah. And then walking into this world of domestic violence advocacy and victims advocacy and saying,
Leslie Briggs 13:44
This is so warped way. So warped, yeah. Like, it's not capturing the right bad actors at the right moment.
Colleen McCarty 13:53
No, and it's not preventing any violence. No, it's actually like, allowing, we talked about this with April's case. But it's allowing these cycles of violence to like, expand and expand and expound because, you know, if you talk to people who work in trauma, or people who try to heal trauma, they will tell you that subconsciously or subconscious wounds are acting themselves out until something happens to cause you to heal it. And if you just keep not getting held accountable. Yeah, it just keeps getting like louder and bigger and more people getting hurt.
Leslie Briggs 14:30
Yeah, more chaotic more untethered. I think and those themes are going to be coming through in season two. Certainly.
Colleen McCarty 14:37
Yes, but you are going to meet some really fun character. So too.
Leslie Briggs 14:40
Yeah. And it's another Oklahoma based story. So we're, we're excited. We're in the research phase. We have two excellent, top notch interns that are plugging away getting us all the details and so they are basically legal research superheroes. I think I called them or Swiss Army Knife interns the other day. I love that they do everything for us there like, I mean, I will message either one of them at like 5pm It'd be like, I need this thing and I'm sorry. It will be like 615 They're like it's done.
Colleen McCarty 15:11
It's done. It's in the file.
Leslie Briggs 15:12
It's good. Love it. So excellent. So shout out. Alison cat. You guys are true heroes.
Colleen McCarty 15:18
Yes. So we don't want to take too much more of your time because we want you to start preparing to come to the Capitol with us next week. There's two days you can do that you can do that Monday the 27th or Thursday, the second we will be conducting community art projects and bringing people together and speaking to the survivor experience in Oklahoma. So we hope you will join us and stay tuned for season two of panic button.
Leslie Briggs 15:47
Colleen McCarty 15:54
Panic Button is a co production of Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice and Leslie bricks. We're your hosts Colleen McCarty and Leslie Briggs. Our theme music is velvet rope by Guillaume the production team is Lesley Briggs and rusty row were recorded at Bison and be in studio in Tulsa. Special thanks to Lynn Worley, Amanda Ross and Ashlyn Faulkner for their work on this case. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at the hotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233 help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us at Oka underscore Appleseed across all social platforms. You can subscribe right now in the Apple podcasts app by clicking on our podcasts logo and then hit the subscribe button. If you want to continue the conversation with other listeners, please join our panic button podcast community on book clubs. Join for free at BIT dot L y slash three in our H O eight. See. Thanks so much for listening