In The Know: Oklahoma Department of Corrections director resigns

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

Oklahoma Department of Corrections director resigns: After a series of bungled executions and a related ongoing grand jury investigation, the director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has resigned. Robert Patton, who has only served as the boss of state prisons since January 2014, said he plans to take a job in Arizona to be closer to his family. Patton worked for the Arizona Department of Corrections for close to three decades before accepting the job in Oklahoma [NewsOK].

Costello family struggled for years to help son with mental illness, long before tragedy at Braum’s: Cathy Costello’s home is starting to quieten down. Shortly after her husband’s death, Cathy announced she wanted to continue Mark Costello’s term as Oklahoma labor commissioner. In some ways, her campaign was a welcome distraction from immeasurable pain. But that campaign is over, and someone else sits at his desk. So now, Cathy has time to reflect [The Oklahoman].

In Oklahoma City, a welcome conversation about criminal justice: It was significant indeed that the topic of discussion at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Forum for December wasn’t the economy or the progress of MAPS 3 or another issue with a clear business tie. Instead it was criminal justice, particularly the need to move away from a system that keeps too many people locked in the county jail, and for too long [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman].

Tulsa retains high percentage of Teach for America corps members but has trouble attracting applicants: Tulsa is fertile ground for those wanting to make a difference in their communities. That’s the attitude of many Teach For America (TFA) alumni who stay in town after their two-year teaching commitment through the nonprofit, which brings recent college grads into low-income classrooms [Tulsa World].

What the end of the federal No Child Left Behind Act could mean for Oklahoma: A replacement for the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act is now sailing through Congress, but what could it mean in practical terms for the future of Oklahoma’s public schools? Education officials say that, to a large degree, the answer will depend on how much latitude state lawmakers take in altering the programs and systems they created over the past 15 years — not only to comply with federal requirements, but also in an attempt to implement public education reforms of their own [Tulsa World].

‘School choice’ is a popular phrase, but do Oklahomans want vouchers? (Capitol Updates): The capitol did not see much action last week as the current occupants turned their attention to travel, family and Thanksgiving. With the deadline for requesting a bill for the upcoming session on December 11th, one can assume things will be picking up soon. Outside the capitol there was a recent poll that caught my attention because it will probably be used to affect our state during the next session and beyond [OK Policy].

Oklahoma economy linked to college funding, higher education proponents say: Investing in education is critical to the state’s economic future. That’s the case higher education officials are making to the governor and Legislature as they fight to retain funding despite a serious state budget shortfall projected to be as much as $1 billion. The fight is on two fronts — minimizing any cuts in state appropriations and preserving Oklahoma’s Promise, a scholarship program that is funded “off the top” before lawmakers allocate other state dollars [NewsOK].

Oklahoma City considers revised panhandling measure: A revised proposal to curb panhandling in Oklahoma City is designed in part to blunt criticism that policymakers are criminalizing poverty. The city council will consider the measure Tuesday and could take a final vote. The revisions tighten the focus on intersections, in line with Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer’s position that panhandling limits are justified by the need to protect public safety [NewsOK].

Despite new legislation, some family caregivers in Oklahoma worry they don’t have necessary skills: Doug Mercer, 51, thought he wouldn’t have any big worries after returning to McAlester from overseas’ assignments in Afghanistan and Iraq as a privately contracted truck driver. He was wrong — twice. In August 2010, his motorcycle hit a guardrail on State Highway 113, sending him flying and into an unforgiving clump of trees. He was airlifted to a Tulsa hospital, where he was in a coma for seven weeks [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“The most important thing to me is that the story says — A: Christian truly is sick, he’s not evil. He’s really sick and has been for a long time, and, B: His dad loved him so much as he did all of us, and his No. 1 goal was to try help his son have a normal life and to be happy. He wanted his son to be happy and feel loved and cared for by us and others.”

– Cathy Costello, widow of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, who was killed by the couple’s son, Christian, in August. Christian suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, and his family had struggled for years to get treatment for him (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma households containing four or more people in 2014

Source: Census Bureau.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Young, Illegal, and Alone: Guillermo’s family home sat on a hill in San Salvador. The houses there stood crowded, stacked one upon another with rusted metal roofs, and some nights Guillermo could stand atop the hill and look across the valley of dark buildings to the bright incandescence of Estadio Custcatlán, Central America’s largest soccer stadium. Between him and the stadium ran a busy street. His side of the street was controlled by the gang MS-13. On the other side, the rival gang, Barrio 18, controlled its own territory. One night last winter, Guillermo, then 15, walked outside with friends as it rained. He heard a car’s tires slowing as it splashed through the puddles until it stopped beside him [The Atlantic].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

One thought on “In The Know: Oklahoma Department of Corrections director resigns

  1. BOTTOM LINE: Governor had a nationally recognized and respected corrections director and called him bad. She selected a new director with nationally known problems with death penalty protocols and no experience with OK and called him good. Another new director maybe crazy enough to come to OK to be selected. Sensing a trend here.

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