Still Waiting: Juvenile life without parole in Oklahoma


Still Waiting for a Second Chance

Oklahoma’s juvenile life without parole prisoners struggle to get attorneys, new hearings
Part 1: An investigation by The Frontier found that many Oklahoma prisoners serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles have struggled to get their cases reopened for a new sentencing hearing or even get access to an attorney— a potential violation of their constitutional rights.

Just seven out of 43 prisoners serving life without parole for juvenile convictions in Oklahoma have been re-sentenced under new standards laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Robert Mitchell’s prison photos from 2000 and 2016.

Oklahoma prosecutors seek life without parole again in most juvenile cases up for review
Part 2: Although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that life without parole should be reserved only for the worst juvenile offenders who are beyond rehabilitation, Oklahoma prosecutors are seeking life without parole again in six of the eight pending juvenile cases that have been granted new sentencing hearings.

Convicted of murder at age 15 in 1983, Wayne Thompson has been trying to win parole in Oklahoma for the past 20 years. COURTESY

Oklahoma rarely paroles violent offenders
Part 3: Juvenile no-parole prisoners resentenced to life with the possibility of parole are still unlikely to win release in Oklahoma. The state rarely paroles violent offenders. Five of the seven Oklahoma juvenile life without parole prisoners who have been resentenced are now serving life terms.

Additional content: 

Convicted of murder as a teenager, Dana Barker now hopes for freedom

Inmates in Oklahoma prisons serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles

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Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey grew up in Idaho. Oklahoma is her adopted home. Bailey has covered issues ranging from Oklahoma's strained child welfare system to the slow decline of Oklahoma's rural hospitals. She has walked all the way across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to south via Western Avenue and once via the old U.S. Route 66. Her hobbies are baking and crashing meetings she isn't invited to attend. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Oklahoma. Email her at