In The Know: Judges not enforcing Justice Reinvestment supervision requirements

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 you should know that the Tulsa World has reported that another key component of the criminal justice reform measure passed last year appears to have been largely ignored. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed how the justice reinvestment law is not being implemented and why key criminal justice reforms are left undone. The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an effort by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to reinstate criminal penalties for people with methamphetamine-related convictions who are caught purchasing cold medicine.

Starting on Nov. 1, a new definition of “misconduct” will make it easier for Oklahoma employers to avoid paying unemployment. A Brookings Institute report finds that 20 percent of Oklahoma jobs require some knowledge of math and science. Tulsa Public Schools is launching a new effort to help struggling seniors pass end of instruction exams. Longtime Oklahoma education official Jack Herron says he plans to run for state superintendent.

Gov. Mary Fallin is bringing a delegation of aerospace companies and economic development agencies to the Paris Air Show. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club awarded the Legislature a ‘B+’ for its record on the environment this year. See the full rankings for individuals legislators here. The OK Policy Blog has a guest post on why public funding for the arts matters.

The Number of the Day is the number of households in Oklahoma that are underwater on their homes. In today’s Policy Note, a new Feeding America map shows that children in rural areas are the most likely to lack steady access to sufficient food. Oklahoma’s worst rate of child food insecurity is in Pushmataha County in the southeastern part of the state, where 1 in 3 children are food insecure.

In The News

Mandatory supervision not being required despite new law

A key component of a widely acclaimed public safety and corrections reform measure passed last year appears to have been largely ignored. A provision of House Bill 3052, known as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, requires mandatory supervision for felons discharging their sentences. The law went into effect Nov. 1. Since then, only nine offenders have had the requirement placed on them, when 1,621 should have received mandatory supervision, Laura Pitman, Department of Corrections deputy director, said Monday. Without the requirement, the Department of Corrections does not have the authority to supervise them upon release, she said.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Previously: Oklahoma is still waiting for criminal justice reform from the OK Policy Blog; The life and death of justice reinvestment from the OK Policy Blog

U.S. Supreme Court upholds decision preventing prosecution of meth registry violations

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an effort by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to reinstate criminal penalties for people with methamphetamine-related convictions who are caught purchasing cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine. The state methamphetamine registry remains in place and prevents people with meth convictions from purchasing pseudoephedrine-based products on a daily basis, said Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward. However, the 2012 Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals case of Angela Wolf blocked state prosecutions of people who are subject to the registry but manage to purchase the medicines.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

New definition of ‘misconduct’ makes it easier for Oklahoma employers to avoid paying unemployment

Starting on Nov. 1, Oklahoma employees who file for unemployment after being terminated for cause will have significantly more difficulty qualifying for benefits due to a recent statutory amendment which provides a new legal definition of “misconduct.” Under the prior law, while Oklahoma employers could challenge unemployment claims in situations where the employee was terminated for cause, proving such misconduct was difficult because the term “misconduct” was not defined by the Legislature. Accordingly, the courts crafted their own definition which placed a high burden upon the employer to meet in order to disqualify employees from receiving benefits even where the separation from employment was for cause.

Read more from NewsOK.

STEM knowledge required for 20 percent of Oklahoma jobs

Education in math and science is even more important because of the changing economy, according to findings released Monday by the Brookings Institute. The report expands the definition of jobs that require knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known collectively as STEM. Under the new classification, nearly 20 percent of jobs in Oklahoma and nationwide require such education. The new definition includes jobs such as construction trades workers, metal workers and vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers and repairers in addition to more traditional science and technology jobs such as engineers, scientists, financial specialists and business operations specialists.

Read more from NewsOK.

Struggling seniors in Tulsa getting more help to pass EOI exams

Abraham Richards had earned B’s in geometry class, so when he failed to pass Oklahoma’s End of Instruction exam in that subject, he found himself in a state of denial. Richards, a Memorial High School student, is one of 168 Tulsa Public Schools seniors – almost 11 percent of the class of 2013 – ensnared in a kind of post-graduation limbo because they have been denied a high school diploma. This is the second year that the Achieving Classroom Excellence Act, or ACE, has required seniors not only to earn all of the required class credits but also to pass at least four out of seven End of Instruction tests in core subjects. At this time last year, TPS had about 150 seniors in the same boat, so the school district has now assigned an administrator to focus solely on stemming the tide.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Okla. education official seeks superintendent post

A longtime Oklahoma education official says he plans to run for state superintendent of public instruction in 2014. Democrat Jack Herron of Norman said Monday he intends to seek the post currently held by Republican Janet Barresi. The 67-year-old Herron worked as assistant state superintendent for financial services at the state Department of Education until he says Barresi fired him after she took over in 2011. He has since worked as legislative liaison for the Professional Oklahoma Educators, a nonunion teacher’s service organization.

Read more from NewsOn6.

Gov. Fallin to bring delegation to Paris Air Show

Gov. Mary Fallin will lead a delegation of aerospace companies and economic development agencies to participate in next week’s Paris Air Show. The 50th Annual Paris Air Show, Monday through June 23, is expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors and feature more than 2,100 exhibitors representing 45 countries. Two years ago, Fallin was criticized about the cost of sending four state officials to the air show, which is held every other year. Records showed that the state paid for $400-a-night rooms at a luxury Paris hotel, $188 daily meal per diems and more than $3,000 in airfare. Fallin didn’t attend the show in 2011 but defended Oklahoma’s participation.

Read more from NewsOK.

Environmental group gives Okla. Legislature ‘B+’

The Oklahoma Legislature earned a “B+” grade for its work protecting the environment, passing bills to fund drought mitigation efforts and promote local farmer’s markets while derailing legislation described as “extremist,” an environmental group announced on Monday. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental nonprofit group, released a legislative session summary that includes a report card grading individual Oklahoma representatives and senators on their votes affecting the environment.

Read more from the Associated Press.

See also: 2013 Environmental Report Card from the Sierra Club

Why Public Funding for the Arts Matters (Guest Post: Ken Busby)

We’ve just completed our legislative session in Oklahoma. Two efforts to provide state funding for an Oklahoma popular culture museum and an Oklahoma Native American cultural center were deferred for consideration because of the recent devastating tornados and their aftermath. An effort to move the Oklahoma Arts Council under the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma State Department of Tourism was fortunately averted. However, these initiatives point to a much larger issue – a general misunderstanding of the power of the arts as an agent of economic development and a disregard for the importance of the arts in education.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Quote of the Day

I’m just doing this pro bono. They ask me why I do this. Well, I don’t play golf or anything like that.

-Attorney Jerry Fent, on why he continues to file lawsuits challenging questionably constitutional bills approved by the Legislature.

Number of the Day


Number of households in Oklahoma that are underwater on their homes, nearly 16 percent of the state’s 429,000 mortgages

Source: Catalist via Alliance for a Just Society

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Child hunger is concentrated in rural America

Over one in five American children lack steady access to sufficient food, and over 50 million total Americans are food insecure. Those figures come from Map the Meal Gap, an annual report from the anti-hunger charity Feeding America that tracks food security down to the county level. Feeding America’s interactive map is based on national data from 2011 and focuses on the rates of food insecurity rather than the raw numbers. The country’s largest cities have the largest raw numbers of food-insecure children, but children in rural communities are most likely to be food insecure. Forty-three percent of America’s counties are rural, but they make up almost two-thirds of counties with high rates of child food insecurity.

Read more from ThinkProgress.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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