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The surprisingly weak link between incarceration and crime

by | September 26th, 2016 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice | Comments (0)

10-29-14sfpThe logic of the “tough on crime” movement holds that punishing people harshly for their offenses — whether violent or nonviolent — is a critical tool to prevent crime. That attitude was the driving force behind criminal justice policy in Oklahoma and across the country for years, and states sent more and more people to prison each year as a result. Although crime has been decreasing steadily since its peak in the early 1990s, the incarceration rate only began dropping slowly in the last 8 years or so.

These national trends, however, mask wide variation in trends among the states. Between 2006 and 2014, California’s imprisonment rate decreased by 27 percent while Arkansas’s increased by 23 percent. Over the same period, the violent crime rate dropped 35 percent  in Virginia but increased 32 percent in South Dakota. In Oklahoma, the imprisonment rate rose by 5 percent while the violent crime rate dropped by 21 percent.

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In The Know: Fragile peace in Tulsa following Terence Crutcher’s death the work of many

by | September 26th, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Fragile peace in Tulsa following Terence Crutcher’s death the work of many: Quick action by authorities and relationships built in the wake of the 2012 Good Friday shootings helped keep the peace this past week, some prominent black Tulsans say. So did the strength of black churches, the influence of neighborhood leadership and maybe a few strands of what one called community DNA. But the peace is combustible. Emotions continue high on all sides, throwing off sparks capable of igniting the sort of explosion that engulfed Charlotte, North Carolina, in recent days [Tulsa World]. Tulsa’s prayers, and past scars, softened reaction to police shooting [New York Times].

Rarity of Tulsa Shooting: Female Officers Are Almost Never Involved: Betty Jo Shelby drew her gun and warned the man to stop walking. But Terence Crutcher continued moving toward his S.U.V., which he had left in the middle of the road, the driver’s side door open and the engine running. He was mumbling to himself, but his hands were raised in the air. Moments later, Officer Shelby fired a single shot, leaving Mr. Crutcher dead in the street. She told investigators she believed he had a weapon [New York Times].

The Risks of Breakneck Growth at State’s Largest Virtual School: Oklahoma’s largest online charter school is on a track of explosive growth, nearly tripling its enrollment over three years, to almost 8,500. That pursuit of lightning growth by Epic Charter Schools – a goal affirmed by its co-founder – shows no signs of letting up. Epic officials predict enrollment will near 10,000 by mid-school year. But the trend is raising concerns from one top online charter-school regulator about whether there is too much turnover of students. And at least one national report warns that rapid expansion at virtual charter schools can compromise academic achievement [Oklahoma Watch].

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The Weekly Wonk: Why Oklahoma teachers need a raise, the school districts with the most and least state aid, and more

by | September 25th, 2016 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Policy Director Gene Perry explained, in two charts, why Oklahoma teachers need a raise. Perry also created detailed maps showing how much per pupil funding Oklahoma school districts receive, and why.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that short-sighted cuts to alternative education will create long-term costs. Blatt previously discussed the topic in a blog post. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update described how Oklahoma’s long journey to child welfare reform is getting longer

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Oklahoma’s long journey to fix the child welfare system grows longer (Capitol Updates)

by | September 23rd, 2016 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Children and Families | Comments (0)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. You can find past Capitol Updates archived  on his website.

Recently, DHS and the advocacy group representing the plaintiffs in a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of children in our Oklahoma foster care system agreed to extend the settlement agreement reached in 2012. The agreement was to have ended in 5 years with the successful implementation of the “Pinnacle Plan”, an ambitious set of reforms to better protect and nurture children in foster care. It had become apparent that the gains made in the past 4 years were not enough to meet the anticipated 5-year deadline. The alternative to extending the timeline would presumably have been to return to court, call off the settlement, and resume litigation.

It’s not surprising that 5 years was not enough to “fix” the child welfare system. In fact, it has been apparent from early on that the timeline was too ambitious and the funding was insufficient. In addition to money appropriated specifically for the Pinnacle Plan, DHS has had to divert funds away from services to others to supplement the reforms. And they have still fallen behind schedule. But it’s not all money. Figuring out how to protect and nurture children with multiple challenges, from mental and physical health to neglect and sexual, physical and emotional abuse issues is complex. And the results are often unpredictable. If DHS knew when they started what they know now they could probably have accomplished more sooner, but they didn’t.

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In The Know: Officer Betty Shelby charged with first-degree manslaughter in fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher

by | September 23rd, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Officer Betty Shelby charged with first-degree manslaughter in fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher: The Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office filed a first-degree manslaughter charge on Thursday against Officer Betty Shelby in the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher last week. District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said during a brief press conference that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Shelby, 42, who is expected to turn herself in to authorities. Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Monday that Crutcher, a 40-year-old father of four, was unarmed when Shelby shot him once in the upper right lung area next to his stopped SUV near 36th Street North and Lewis Avenue at 7:44 p.m. Sept. 16 [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants Investigative Team For Police Shootings: Oklahoma House Minority Leader Scott Inman talked to News 9 reporter Justin Dougherty about Terence Crutcher’s death in Tulsa and other officer-involved shootings. Inman said an investigative team led by the attorney general may now be necessary. Inman said the state has discussed a team like this in the past, but those talks have been tabled for a while. Inman went on to say it may be necessary to have those talks once again [NewsOn6].

Heavy Fundraising on State Question 777 Suggests Right-to-Farm is High-Stakes Political Issue: Oklahoma voters will decide in November whether to change the state constitution with new language protecting the agriculture industry. Informally known as the right-to-farm amendment, State Question 777 raises a lot of legal, environmental and economic questions. A StateImpact analysis of state campaign finance data shows the issue has attracted more direct donations than any other ballot question, suggesting right-to-farm is high-stakes Oklahoma politics [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Learn more about 2016 State Questions here.

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In The Know: President Obama calls Tulsa mayor to discuss city’s response to fatal police shooting

by | September 22nd, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (1)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

President Obama calls Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett to discuss city’s response to fatal police shooting: President Barack Obama complimented the city of Tulsa and city leaders, especially Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan, for their handling of the aftermath of Terence Crutcher’s death, Mayor Dewey Bartlett said Wednesday. “He called, and I had a nice conversation with him,” Bartlett said. “He was very complimentary of Tulsa, of me — which I was proud to hear — and he was very complimentary of our police chief. I was very proud to hear that.” Bartlett said Obama thanked him for transparency efforts following Crutcher’s fatal shooting by a Tulsa police officer [Tulsa World].

We the People meets with Tulsa Police chief to talk community policing, policies in department: We the People Oklahoma’s Marq Lewis met with the Tulsa’s chief of police Wednesday afternoon to discuss practices and policies within the department. Lewis said he and Police Chief Chuck Jordan discussed community policing and policies, including psychological evaluations and blood tests for officers involved in shootings. Lewis praised the department for having a dialogue with the community, but he also said release of the video of last week’s fatal police shooting of Terence Crutcher could have been better because there is concern with the audio [Tulsa World].

KIPP charter schools mourn parent shot and killed by police in Oklahoma: The shooting Friday evening of an unarmed motorist by police in Oklahoma is more than a news story for the KIPP schools. Terence Crutcher, the 40-year-old motorist killed by Tulsa police after his car broke down, is a KIPP parent. He leaves four children. KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) is a national network of high achieving charter schools. KIPP CEO Richard Barth addressed Crutcher’s death in a letter to staff and parents [Atlanta Journal-Constitution].

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Why Oklahoma teachers need a raise, in two charts

by | September 21st, 2016 | Posted in Education | Comments (8)

One of the most hotly debated State Questions that Oklahomans will decide this year is SQ 779. The measure would increase the sales tax to improve education funding — with most of the new funding dedicated to teacher raises. While opponents of the measure have criticized using a sales tax increase as the funding source, there is widespread, bipartisan agreement that Oklahoma teachers need a raise.

SQ 779 would require districts to provide a $5,000 raise for all Oklahoma teachers. It would also provide some additional funds that schools could use for performance pay or pay increases for the most highly demanded teacher positions. That $5,000 wouldn’t bring Oklahoma up to anywhere near the best states for teacher pay, but it would counteract the trend of falling pay since 2009.

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In The Know: For thousands of Oklahomans, civil justice is out of reach

by | September 21st, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

For Thousands of Oklahomans, Civil Justice Is Out of Reach: Attorney Janet Roloff pauses as she tries to estimate what it would cost David and Minnie Harris if she had billed them for the hours she’s worked representing them in their mobile-home foreclosure case. “For three years of litigation against major corporations?” she asks, seated behind a cluttered desk in the McAlester field office for Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. “You know, I’d have to say least a hundred thousand dollars.” That is well beyond the reach of the Harrises, a Fort Towson couple whose only income is Social Security disability payments. Still, Roloff is unsure her pro bono work will pay off [Oklahoma Watch].

Suicide care crisis follows years of underfunding: Francie Moss hit roadblocks as she tried to help her adult daughter get treatment for suicidal thoughts. She said she was frustrated in part because of the stigma associated with brain illnesses, and those diseases are treated differently than other illnesses. But it’s complicated and expensive to treat patients with mental health and substance abuse issues, said Mary Holloway Richard, health care attorney at Phillips Murrah. And Oklahoma’s agency that provides services for people who can’t pay for private services has been underfunded for decades. Hospital medical treatment for suicidal behavior is woefully inadequate, in some cases, Moss said. She said many hospitals will keep a suicidal patient for only three to five days [Journal Record].

Innocence Project exonerees recall 22 years behind bars: For most of us, an incredible number of life events took place between 1994 and 2016. Marriages, babies, vacations, job changes. For De’Marchoe Carpenter and Malcolm Scott, those 22 years included days that mostly looked the same — exercising, watching TV, writing letters, praying — all while incarcerated for a crime neither man committed. Carpenter and Scott have been back out in the free world since May 9, a date that will forever be etched in their minds. That was the day Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes announced the two men — accused and convicted of killing 19-year-old single mom Karen Summers — were to be freed after 22 years in prison [NonDoc].

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In The Know: As Hispanic school enrollment grows, segregation increases in Oklahoma City

by | September 20th, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

As Hispanic school enrollment grows, segregation increases in Oklahoma City: Hispanic students in Oklahoma City Public Schools are segregated at the same rate black students were before a court- ordered desegregation plan that bused black students to white schools. In 1970, a year before busing began, 71 percent of black students in the district attended a school with black enrollment of 70 percent or higher. Last year, 71 percent of Hispanic students in Oklahoma City Public Schools attended a school with Hispanic enrollment of 70 percent or higher, according to The Oklahoman’s analysis of data provided by the district [NewsOK].

Teacher union president’s observances about OKC school district merit attention: Aurora Lora, named superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools in July, has said many times that she plans to stick around awhile. It’s safe to say Ed Allen, head of the local teachers union, hopes that’s the case. This isn’t solely because Allen likes what he has seen from Lora during her two-plus years in Oklahoma City (she was assistant superintendent before getting the top job). Instead, it’s because he believes the district badly needs a long-term leader to effect the sort of change that is needed [Editorial Board / NewsOK].

Mapped: The Oklahoma school districts with the most and least per pupil state aid: It’s well known that state aid funding in Oklahoma has struggled in recent years — since 2008 we’ve cut per student state aid by 24.2 percent after inflation, the largest drop in the U.S. Cuts to state aid affect all school districts in the state, but not all districts are affected equally. Because state aid to local districts is based on a formula that takes into account the needs of students and the local resources of districts to fund themselves, the amount per student that’s funded by the state varies widely between districts. In the 2015-2016 school year, aid went from a low of $16 to a high of $7,740 per student [OK Policy].

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Mapped: The Oklahoma school districts with the most and least per pupil state aid

by | September 19th, 2016 | Posted in Education | Comments (1)

It’s well known that state aid funding in Oklahoma has struggled in recent years — since 2008 we’ve cut per student state aid by 24.2 percent after inflation, the largest drop in the U.S. Cuts to state aid affect all school districts in the state, but not all districts are affected equally. Because state aid to local districts is based on a formula that takes into account the needs of students and the local resources of districts to fund themselves, the amount per student that’s funded by the state varies widely between districts. In the 2015-2016 school year, aid went from a low of $16 to a high of $7,740 per student.

You can see the per student state aid funding for each Oklahoma school district in the map below. Click here to open an interactive map as its own tab and click here to download the data in Excel. The map reveals a couple of trends — the highest levels of per-student state aid tend to be found in districts in southeast Oklahoma, while the lowest state aid tends in be in northwest Oklahoma districts outside of the panhandle.

[Note: The map does not include charter schools, which tend to receive higher state aid because they have no local revenues. Charter school state aid can be found in the full data set.]

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