In The Know: Four die in prison violence

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

Four inmates dead following prison brawl: An inmate hospitalized after a weekend outburst of violence at a private prison in Oklahoma died of his injuries, the company that owns and operates the prison said on Sunday, bringing the number of dead from the episode to four. The violence took place Saturday night in one of the prison’s housing pods, the company said in a statement on Sunday. The altercation lasted only two minutes, but it took prison staff members 38 minutes to secure the area, prison officials said [The New York Times]. As a precaution, all state prisons have been placed on lockdown in response [ABC News]. House Speaker Jeff Hickman previously warned that the state’s prisons were “one riot away” from a federal takeover [OK Policy]. 

State prisons move away from solitary confinement: Oklahoma Corrections Director Robert Patton has launched a pilot program aimed at decreasing the number of state prison inmates locked in their cells 23 hours a day. If Patton wants to give inmates more time out of their cells, he must ensure it can only be done in a secure environment to protect the employees in his woefully understaffed institutions [Tulsa World]. There is some risk with this program, certainly. Yet Patton is right when he says his agency’s policy shouldn’t be guided by fear. Time will tell whether his high hopes for this worthwhile effort are realized [The Oklahoman].

Oklahoma City councilwoman introduces law on panhandling: Proposed restrictions on panhandling are part of a broad effort to attack “explosive” growth in activities that frighten and intimidate many residents, Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer said Friday. Salyer said she receives complaints “in the multiples every day” about panhandlers. She said residents tell her their quality of life is destroyed every morning as they drive through the intersection of NW 23 and Pennsylvania Avenue [NewsOK]. 

Advocates place 16 homeless veterans in single day in Oklahoma City: Journey Home OKC, a coalition of more than 40 nonprofits, businesses and other organizations, placed 16 homeless veterans into housing Thursday. That step is the latest in a yearlong campaign to find homes for every homeless veteran in Oklahoma City by the end of the year [NewsOK].
Keith Ballard: Overtesting, underfunding trouble Oklahoma schools: It was an honor to serve as superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools for the past seven years. There continues to be serious problems facing education in Oklahoma, specifically in testing and funding. State leaders are still not paying enough attention to the pressing problem of funding Oklahoma education [Tulsa World].

Improving Oklahoma by degrees: Oklahoma launched the 12-year Complete College American initiative in 2011, with a goal to increase career credentials and college degrees conferred by 1,700 each year — an ambitious 67 percent spike that would bring the total to 50,900 in 2023. The state surpassed its annual goal with an increase of 2,945 degrees and certificates in the first year and 3,577 in the second year [Tulsa World].

State officials mull plan to move medical examiner’s office: Oklahoma state officials are considering a plan to move the state medical examiner’s office to a building across the street from the Governor’s Mansion that has more than three times the space of the current office. The proposal calls for the Commissioners of the Land Office to purchase the Oklahoma City-County Health Department office so the three-story, 63,000 square-foot building can be converted into a medical examiner’s office [KRMG].
Is Oklahoma about to execute an innocent man? Richard Glossip’s supporters say yes: Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip may be running out of time before Wednesday, when he is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection, but the attorneys fighting tooth-and-nail to convince Governor Mary Fallin to grant him a 60-day stay of execution announced this week that they have uncovered new information adding doubt to his already widely contested conviction [The Guardian].
Oklahoma judge orders Ten Commandments monument removed: An Oklahoma judge on Friday ordered that a monument to the Ten Commandments be removed from state Capitol grounds within 30 days, citing a state Supreme Court ruling that deemed the statue’s location unconstitutional. Oklahoma County District Judge Thomas Prince handed down the ruling after rejecting an attempt by Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office to prolong the legal fight [Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“My anthropologist is in a closet and to lay out a skeleton, he has to come out to a conference room. If attorneys arrive and need to use that conference room, he has to pack up the skeleton and move it back to his office.”

– Amy Elliott, chief administrative officer for the state medical examiner, explaining plans to move the state medical examiner’s office to a new building. The office lost its accreditation due to issues with the current location (Source)

Number of the Day


Birth rate per 1,000 for women ages 15-44 in Oklahoma in 2013, the 8th-highest in the US

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

It’s expensive to be poor: When Ken Martin, a hat-seller, pays his monthly child-support bill, he uses a money order rather than writing a cheque. Money orders, he says, carry no risk of going overdrawn, which would incur a $40 bank fee. They cost $7 at the bank. At the post office they are only $1.25 but getting there is inconvenient. Despite this, while he was recently homeless, Mr Martin preferred to sleep on the streets with hundreds of dollars in cash—the result of missing closing time at the post office—rather than risk incurring the overdraft fee. The hefty charge, he says, “would kill me” [The Economist].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.