The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that individuals who are serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed as juveniles are eligible to request resentencing hearings and A&E’s “Kids Behind Bars: Life or Parole” follows the cases of some of these previously convicted juvenile offenders who are seeking resentencing.
Each episode explores the story of an inmate who committed a crime as a juvenile and who is now attempting to get released or resentenced to a lighter sentence which would make them eligible for parole. The second season’s second episode, “Dana,” follows 45-year-old Dana Barker, who was convicted of murdering her stepmother Brenda Barker in 1994 and is now attempting to get a resentencing hearing.
Where is Dana Barker today?
Barker Is In Prison in Oklahoma Where She Is Continuing to Fight for a Resentencing Hearing
Public records with Oklahoma Corrections show that Barker is currently incarcerated at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, a facility for female inmates in McLoud, Oklahoma. Barker, now 45, was admitted to the facility in 1995 and her sentence is listed as first-degree murder with a term of life without parole.
Public records also show that Barker’s attorney filed a motion to vacate her conviction on August 13, 2020. This motion followed several applications for post-conviction relief, including applications filed in 2018 and 2019.
There are currently two ongoing legal battles, according to the Oklahoma State Courts Network, one which is on the basis of the United States Supreme Court decision on providing resentencing hearings for juveniles convicted of life in prison without parole.
The second is requesting that the court rule on whether the state of Oklahoma has the jurisdiction to sentence her or if it should be handled by federal courts in light of a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that about half of Oklahoma is in a Native American reservation, as NPR reported.
Barker Said She Should Serve Time for the Murder She Committed But Doesn’t Think She Should Live the Rest of Her Life in Jail
Barker told The Frontier in an interview that she realizes she committed a horrible crime and has taken responsibility for what she did but doesn’t believe she should be in prison for life. “I should have gone to prison. I did something horrible, but I don’t know that I should have given up the rest of my life,” she added.
Former Okmulgee County District Attorney Tom Giulioli told the outlet that he doesn’t think Barker showed any remorse for her crime. “She had a very cold personality. She never showed any emotion,” he told The Frontier. Barker disagreed with Giulioli and said, “I don’t think that’s a fair assessment. I’d like to know what his definition of remorse is.”
Brenda Barker’s daughter Kerry Whitley has been clear that she doesn’t believe her mother’s killer should be resentenced and said in 1995 that Dana Barker should spend the rest of her life in prison, The Frontier reported. Whitley recently said on Facebook that she appeared on A&E’s “Kids Behind Bars” to ensure that her mother’s voice would also be heard, not just Dana Barker’s.