In Case You Missed It: Updates on April Wilkens

poster made for capitol day

Here’s a recap of what Free April Wilkens advocates and April Wilkens herself have been up to!

The Oklahoma Survivor Justice Coalition went to the capitol last week, organized by Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law & Justice in support of House Bill 1639, a bill authored by Representative Toni Hasenbeck (R). This new legsilation, if passed, could help women like April in Oklahoma. The bill UNANIMOUSLY passed out of the House Judiciary – Criminal committee, chaired by Rande Worthen, on Wednesday (you should be able to view a recording here).

The final day at the capitol, Thursday, was a time of not only reaching out to legislators, but carrying the voices of criminalized survivors into offices – including April’s (click this link to hear their voices/stories). For a recap of the events, see these posts:

April’s Op-ed was published and Podcast updates: Right before we were set to go to the capitol, April was published in The Oklahoman. Later, a version ran in USA Today, the Daily Caller, and other outlets. The wide range of outlets hopefully shows this is a bipartisan issue. Also before going to the capitol, Panic Button podcast hosts Colleen McCarty and Leslie Briggs released an update episode and teased season 2!

For a recap/refresher on season 1’s final episode, see this post from April’s niece.

Learn more about HB 1639 in these articles/news stories:Ā 

Take action:Ā 

Oklahoma Appleseed has made it easy to contact your Oklahoma legislators in support of HB 1639. Use their action network portal to write them.

Other news:
  • Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 7th, is the 1 year anniversary of April’s latest parole jacket being denied by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. They didn’t even read all the letters we collected for her. They didn’t even give her a chance to speak for herself. The appeals, parole, and commutation process have failed April. That’s why we’re turning to legislation and supporting HB 1639.
  • Also tomorrow, another criminalized survivor is up for her chance for freedom. Lisa Rae Moss has made it to a Stage II commutation hearing. That’s a big deal in and of itself in Oklahoma. But, even if she gets the votes tomorrow, Governor Kevin Stitt will have to sign off on it. We are watching how the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board votes on this case for sure! You should be able to watch live online. Learn more about Lisa’s case here. Many will be in-person to witness the vote tomorrow, wearing black.
April’s own voice:Ā 
As mentioned above, we carried April and other womens’ voices to the capitol, pre-recorded on headphones. Here is her testimony:
In Case You Missed It: Updates on April Wilkens

Free Film Screening about Oklahoma’s female incarceration: ‘Women in Prison: America’s Forgotten Voices’

Film Screening and Panel Discussion on Women’s Incarceration in Oklahoma
Incarceration rates for women have increased 800% across the nation. InĀ #OklahomaĀ alone, the number of women locked away in prisons has increased more than 17-fold, from 176 in 1978 to 3,114 in 2017. We continue to lead the nation in female incarceration, only second to Idaho, and this devastating phenomenon has caught the attention of the world.
Join us in a private screening of the film Women in Prison: America’s Forgotten Voices by French film studio StudioFact Rights documenting the mass incarceration of women in Oklahoma.
Afterwards we will be joined by Kris Steele, the Executive Director of TEEM, Colleen McCarty, the Executive Director of Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and Tondalao Hall, an advocate for reform and formerly incarcerated individual.

The programĀ Poetic JusticeĀ is showcased in this documentary. April Wilkens was a part of that program last year, but is not featured. Colleen McCarty of Oklahoma Appleseed Center for Law and Justice is on the panel. McCarty is the co-host of the Panic Button podcast, whose first season told the ongoing story of April Wilkens.


Free Film Screening about Oklahoma’s female incarceration: ‘Women in Prison: America’s Forgotten Voices’