Recent Articles

Leadership change at Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs (Capitol Update)

 After 19 years of advocacy for mental health services, Steve Buck came to the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs with a strong commitment to serving youth, tempered with an eye toward the most efficient expenditure of taxpayer money. His primary goal was prevention, always seeking to follow the data and make services available to troubled youth as early as possible. He insisted the best chance of success in a young person's life, at the least cost to taxpayers, is early intervention with evidence-based or evidence-informed services. [More...]

Watching for potential changes to ‘non-economic’ damages (Capitol update)

There is an issue flying under the radar that may surface sometime during the Legislative session. This is the placing of a statutory cap on what are called "non-economic" damages in personal injury cases. [More...]

Mental health services could be impacted by Medicaid expansion alternative, leadership change (Capitol Update)

In the run-up to the Legislative session beginning this week, two things happened that could affect mental health services for thousands of Oklahomans. [More...]

Proposed bill would address needed alternatives to school suspensions (Capitol Update)

Most educators will tell you suspension doesn't work for the children. They act out, get suspended then return to school, behind in their work and either embarrassed or pleased by their suspension. Often nothing is offered to the child during suspension but days off from school. Suspension becomes a feeder for the criminal justice system. [More...]

It’s time to re-examine the Youthful Offender Act (Capitol Update)

The Office of Juvenile Affairs leadership has announced plans to push through amendments to Youthful Offender Act (YOA) in the upcoming session. [More...]

SB 252 would address needed reforms for bail, pretrial detention (Capitol Update)

The Governor's Criminal Justice RESTORE Task Force issued its initial report last week with some interesting narrative and recommendations. One area the task force commented on was bail and pretrial detention. The report correctly points out the inadequacy and injustice of the current bail system. [More...]

Harsh sentences aren’t always required to achieve justice (Capitol Update)

When they want to, prosecutors will agree that a harsh sentence is not always necessary to achieve justice. The goal of criminal justice reform is to get them to want to more often. [More...]

Flat state budget ahead? It’s not that simple. (Capitol Update)

Last month, the Oklahoma State Board of Equalization held its first meeting for the purpose of certifying how much money the legislature will have to appropriate for the budget year beginning July 1, 2020, when it convenes in February. The current economy on the current tax rates has produced what amounts to a level budget going forward next year. But with state finance it is never that simple. [More...]

Where is the focus on sentencing reform? (Capitol Update)

Instead of a determined effort to fulfill its charge of classifying felonies with an eye toward reducing the prison population, the Council spent the year discussing improvements that should be made everywhere except in court. [More...]

Lawmakers need truthful, complete information to make agency appropriation decisions (Capitol Update)

There's an interesting dynamic emerging between the governor and the legislature regarding next year's budget. Usually state agencies are free to make budget requests based, within realistic limits, on what they feel is needed to accomplish their duties and, if funds are available, to increase services. In preparation for the session, agencies appear before the appropriations committees to explain and justify their budget requests. Depending on available revenue, the legislature will decide which, if any, programs deserve either cuts or additional funding. This is done with input from the governor and his staff because, at the end of the day, the governor has the right to sign or veto the appropriations measures. [More...]