In The Know: Governor’s RESTORE Task Force hears three keys to fracture prison pipeline; High caseloads continue to stress public defender system

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.

New from OK Policy

All Oklahoma children deserve a fair and equal juvenile justice system: Our Juvenile Justice system is failing youth of color. Today’s youth are committing fewer crimes and fewer youth are being arrested, but there are still differences in how they are treated based on their race and where they live. Open Justice Oklahoma’s recent report describes the continuing unevenness within our juvenile justice system. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: Not so Quik! The bottom line is that anecdotal stories about crime should not be the basis of policy, and Oklahoma should continue to pursue evidence-based criminal justice reform to address our state’s incarceration crisis. [David Blatt / OK Policy]

In The News

‘I should have been dead’: Governor’s RESTORE Task Force hears three keys to fracture prison pipeline: A criminal justice reform panel heard firsthand accounts Wednesday of three methods of disrupting Oklahoma’s prison pipeline: intervene with traumatized or abused youths and foster children, provide mentors, and lay out alternative paths away from drugs and crime. [Tulsa World] The 15-member group is tasked with looking at ways to reduce the state’s high incarceration rate and recidivism, to enhance and establish diversion programs and to deter criminal activity, among other objectives. [The Oklahoman]

Despite reforms, high caseloads continue to stress public defender system: Oklahoma’s indigent defense system provides representation for people who are accused of crimes but can’t afford a lawyer. But its leaders have repeatedly warned lawmakers that without more funding, the system may not be able to ensure Oklahomans’ right to legal counsel guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. [Oklahoma Watch] A new law intended to give defendants a fairer chance in the justice system is proving a double-edged sword. [Oklahoma Watch]

State expects another ID extension: The governor’s office expects to get another extension to implement new IDs and believes it will be the last one needed before Oklahoma is able to comply with federal law. “Every sign is pointing towards us getting the extension, we feel confident that will be coming this week,” said Donelle Harder, senior adviser in the governor’s office. [The Oklahoman]

Muskogee Phoenix Editorial: Yes on 802 efforts show how wrong state leaders have been: Backers of a petition that would let voters decide whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program and address Oklahoma’s growing health crisis have gathered nearly 90 percent of the 178,000 signatures they need to get State Question 802 on the ballot.  [Editorial Board / Muskogee Phoenix]

Lawmakers consider ways to improve flood response: An evaluation of response to the May flooding in Oklahoma along the Arkansas River and how to improve future responses continues. At a meeting of a special interim panel at the state capitol, David Williams with the Corps of Engineers took the podium to talk about controlled releases. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Lawmaker targets obstacles to solar investment in state: A state lawmaker said Wednesday she plans to introduce a bill in the next session of the Oklahoma Legislature that could be an important step in attracting more investment in solar power. State Rep. Denise Brewer, D-Tulsa, requested an interim study on renewable energy with particular focus on the economic potential of solar power in the state. [Journal Record ????]

New law removes burden for Oklahoma Realtors: Offering a bottle of water to someone attending an open house might cost a real estate agent $500 in fines due to the way the Oklahoma law was written in the past. But as of Nov. 1, real estate agents will be able to promote their businesses and show appreciation for their clients without finding themselves on the wrong side of the law. [Journal Record ????]

Former state schools superintendent, businessman join GOP race for Congress: Republican Janet Barresi, a former dentist who served one term as state schools superintendent, joined a crowded primary field on Wednesday for the 5th District congressional seat held by Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn. At least seven other Republicans have filed federal statements of candidacy or announced their intention to run. [The Oklahoman]

Tahlequah Daily Press Editorial: Inmates deserve to know why parole is denied: Oklahomans have made it clear that they want criminal justice reform, at the voting booth and elsewhere. And increasingly, so are Americans in general, with a growing number declaring their opposition to for-profit prisons. And the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s recent announcement that it will begin explaining why it is denying parole to inmates is seen as part of that evolving process. [Editorial Board / Tahlequah Daily Press]

Agreement settles police pay dispute: The highest-ranking Oklahoma City police commanders will get cash payouts as part of the settlement of a dispute over overtime pay. The city council is expected to approve the settlement on Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

Walmart sued by EEOC over treatment of job applicant at Ochelata distribution facility: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims Walmart Stores East LP violated federal law when it declined a job applicant at its Ochelata distribution center a chance to take a prehiring physical assessment test and did not hire her. [CNHI]

‘I think it’s about time’: University of Tulsa library displays 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre exhibit to public: The “1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the Aftermath” exhibit features rarely seen photos, maps, books and documents related to the event housed on the fifth floor of the campus library. [Tulsa World]

State gets $5.9 million for veterans’ cemetery in Ardmore: Oklahoma has been awarded a $5.9 million federal grant to build the first state-run veterans’ cemetery in Ardmore, officials announced this week. [Tulsa World]

Muscogee (Creek) Nation court throws out Sept. 21 primary election results over ballot chain of custody issues: Citing questionable ballot security, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Supreme Court has vacated all results from the tribe’s Sept. 21 primary election, including those for principal chief and other races. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“What would be helpful is to provide treatment as an option, as a carrot. I think people think you always need the stick, and that’s just not true. Even though we do need prisons and people will always go to them, people just don’t need that long to be punished, to be sorry and to change.”

– Kelly Doyle, a member of the Pardon and Parole Board and the Governor’s RESTORE Task Force on criminal justice reform, arguing for shorter prison sentences for people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes at the Task Force’s first public meeting [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

$435 million

The combined state budget savings on youth detention costs in Oklahoma since 2001 – due to a 64 percent decline in state-level incarcerations of youth during that same period.

[Source: Open Justice Oklahoma]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The most cost-effective ways to increase college graduation rates: The short answer is: raising per-pupil instructional spending at public institutions. [Brookings]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

One thought on “In The Know: Governor’s RESTORE Task Force hears three keys to fracture prison pipeline; High caseloads continue to stress public defender system

  1. People are still being sent back to prison for ridiculous reasons. My son committed two technical violations on probation and was sent back to prison for 27 years durring his revocation hearing. The two technical violations were given because his girlfriend was a convicted felon and he had spent to many nights at her apartment. On top of this he was charged over $4,000.00 for his stay in Oklahoma county jail. How can anyone overcome their past when the state will not give them a reasonable chance at starting over.

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