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

SAVE THE DATE: 9.13.22

BIG NEWS: We finally have a date for the interim study on criminalized survivorship. It will be from 1pm-4pm on September 13th at the Oklahoma Capitol in Room 206. OK Appleseed joined some critical partners in advocating for an interim study to examine and understand the phenomenon of “criminalized survivors” in Oklahoma. The study was requested by Rep. Toni Hasenbeck and we are grateful to her for her passion on this issue.

Speakers will discuss why survivors get harsh sentences for fighting back and some legislative solutions other states have implemented to give survivors another chance at justice.

Citizens may come listen and observe to show support, as long as there is room. There will not be an open session to share concerns and complaints but your quiet presence is welcome to show your support. You can also watch it on the House website if you are not able to make it to Oklahoma City.

The members on the committee are:

Representative Carol Bush
Representative Ross Ford
Representative Jason Lowe
Representative Stan May
Representative Lonnie Sims
Representative Danny Sterling
Representative Judd Strom
Representative Collin Walke

If you know or have relationships with any of these members, please consider reaching out to share your thoughts and support for a bill that would resentence people who are in prison because they fought back against their abuser.

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You can wear a Free April Wilkens shirt to the Capitol. Get yours here.

SAVE THE DATE: 9.13.22

Oklahoma woman many believe was wrongfully convicted is still in prison after over two decades: What she wishes the governor and the parole board knew, in her own words:

Hopefully you have seen and read the previous post that includes a full statement from April:

Oklahoma Domestic Violence Victim Many Believe was Wrongfully Convicted Still In Prison After Over Two Decades: What She Wishes the Governor and Parole Board Knew, in Her Own Words:

Read April’s past commutation application for even more context on her case.

 

Oklahoma woman many believe was wrongfully convicted is still in prison after over two decades: What she wishes the governor and the parole board knew, in her own words: