In The Know: Julius Jones’ execution scheduled for today | Pardon, parole board members critical of state’s execution process | More

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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Policy Matters: Politics is not sport: Increasingly, we seem to be polarizing along party lines, and too many policy solutions are being framed using the same “winner take all” mentality from athletic competitions. As a result, this creates policy conversations as a zero-sum game based on political affiliations, meaning that folks are viewing gain by one party as a loss for the opposing side.  If our main focus of policy issues is the victory of our party (our “team”), then we undermine our ability to solve problems larger than ourselves. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Family, supporters of Julius Jones make final pleas ahead of Thursday execution: In the waning hours before Julius Jones’ scheduled execution, his mother gave a heartfelt monologue proclaiming his innocence just outside the doors of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office. It may have been her last chance to advocate for her son before he takes his final breaths. Barring intervention from Stitt, Jones will be executed at 4 p.m. Thursday. [The Oklahoman] His case has raised concerns over questionable evidence and systemic racism, while Oklahoma’s method of execution — lethal injection — has been criticized as painful and terrifying, with claims it induces a sense of drowning comparable to the torture tactic of waterboarding. [KOSU]

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt remains quiet as Julius Jones’ execution date nears [The Frontier] | [KOSU]
  • Julius Jones is scheduled to be executed today and Oklahoma’s governor has still not decided if he will commute the death sentence [CNN] | [The Washington Post] | [Reuters]
  • A look at Oklahoma’s death row procedures as state prepares for the execution of Julius Jones [KFOR]
  • OKC students stage walkouts ahead of Julius Jones’ executions date [The Oklahoman] | [BBC]
  • Family, supporters of Julius Jones turn to faith, hold out hope that clemency with be granted [KOSU] | [Tulsa World] | [The Oklahoman] | [New York Times] | [KFOR]
  • Julius Jones’ family begs for clemency as controversial execution nears: “This is a state of emergency” [CBS News]

Concerned about execution protocols, board recommends life without parole for Bigler Stouffer: As the state and nation await Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision on whether to approve the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s clemency recommendation for death-row inmate Julius Jones, the same board voted 3-2 today to recommend clemency for death-row inmate Bigler Stouffer II. While most of the board members said they believe Stouffer is lying in his claims of innocence, board members expressed concerns about the state’s execution protocols. [NonDoc] “That process is obviously flawed,” board member Larry Morris said before voting to recommend clemency. [The Oklahoman] All five board members said they think Stouffer is guilty, but the ones who voted for clemency said they have serious issues with what has been happening with Oklahoma’s executions. [KOSU]

Oklahoma Health Care Authority board passes rules that that some say could reopen door for managed care: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s board voted 4-3 Wednesday to adopt emergency rules that could open the door for the agency to make another attempt at implementing third-party managed care. Under managed care, the Health Care Authority would outsource care management for most Medicaid recipients to private insurance companies — something Gov. Kevin Stitt has pushed for. Stitt has faced opposition from some lawmakers and from state health care leaders over managed care. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy has published a number of pieces that show privatized health care management has a negative impact for many Oklahomans.   

Health News

State overdose deaths increased 20% during pandemic, CDC reports: A local addiction expert wasn’t surprised at news that drug overdose deaths nationwide had increased nearly 30% during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Oklahoma seeing a 20% rise itself. An estimated 798 people died in Oklahoma as a result of a drug overdose during the period April 2020 to April 2021, according to provisional data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control. The previous 12 months saw an estimated 664 drug overdoses in Oklahoma, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. [Tulsa World]

Nursing Home COVID Data Renewed Following Public Pressure: Early this month the agency decided to stop publishing a weekly report of every nursing home, assisted living facility, veteran center and long-term care facilities that had at least one COVID-19 infection among its residents or staff since the pandemic began. The list, which is part of the state’s epidemiology reports that come out on Wednesdays, includes the total number of staff and residents who have been infected with or died from COVID-19 since March 2020. [Oklahoma Watch]

A plateau or start of winter surge? Oklahoma experts concerned as COVID outbreaks occur to west, north: Dr. Jennifer Clark hopes the U.S. is simply at a COVID-19 plateau and not the beginning of a winter surge, but indicators are concerning. The weekly new case counts in 14 states — including Oklahoma — have increased by at least 25% from the prior week and by at least 15% in 24 other states, according to federal government data. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma House passes congressional redistricting map despite Democratic criticism: The Oklahoma House on Wednesday advanced new maps for the state’s congressional districts despite criticism from the Democratic minority. House Democrats voted against the proposed congressional map and accused Republican redistricting leaders of intentionally redrawing Oklahoma’s 5th District, which includes much of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, to keep U.S. Rep. Stephanie Bice safe in her seat. On a near party-line vote, the House passed the map that now heads to the state Senate for final legislative approval. [The Oklahoman] As the state’s new legislative and congressional redistricting maps moved one step closer to becoming law Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers continued pushing for an independent redistricting process that removes politicians going forward. [CNHI via The Norman Transcript]

  • Ripples of CD 5 redistricting fight felt in Washington County [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Federal judge sides with Oklahoma, more states in tax dispute involving COVID-19 relief funds: Siding with Oklahoma and a dozen other states, a federal judge in Alabama ruled this week that it was unconstitutional for Congress to prohibit states from cutting taxes if they accepted relief money from the American Rescue Plan Act. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma challenging Pentagon’s vaccine mandate for Guard: A dispute between Oklahoma’s governor and the Pentagon over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is setting up the first critical test of the military’s authority to require National Guard troops to get the shot and laying the groundwork for potential protests from other states. [AP News] The state says its National Guard members do not need to be vaccinated. Pentagon officials say a failure to follow “valid medical readiness requirements” could “jeopardize” the status of troops. [New York Times]

Criminal Justice News

Law Enforcement Policy Task Force releases final recommendations of reform for Oklahoma City police: The law enforcement policy task force met Tuesday afternoon to discuss their final draft of recommendations regarding reform for the Oklahoma City Police Department. They cited several areas they’re recommending being worked on or outright changed stemming from dialogue they’ve had with police, the community and outreach groups. They cited two critical spots, however – de-escalation and accountability. [KFOR]

Human trafficking: what is it, what are its misconceptions, and how is it handled by the justice system?: OSU Research Matters is a bi-weekly look inside the work of Oklahoma State University faculty, staff and students. In this episode, Meghan Robinson speaks with Dr. Corinne Schwarz, an assistant professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at OSU. Her research is broadly based on how gender violence and justice operate in society. More specifically, it looks at anti-trafficking service provisions. [KOSU]

Economy & Business News

Retail outlook good, but many jobs unfilled: Local retail is strong going into the holiday season with some lingering effects from the pandemic, a panel of experts said Wednesday at a Greater Oklahoma City Chamber forum. “Retail over the course of the pandemic has done better than most people think,” said Jim Parrack, senior vice president of Price Edwards & Co. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Epic Charter Schools reducing staff, board approves revised budgets: Three out of five students that enrolled in Epic Charter Schools during the height of the pandemic last year returned to their home districts for the 2021-2022 school year. The shift marks an enrollment decline that is expected to cause a $60 million drop in state-allocated funding as well as staff cuts for the charter schools. [NonDoc] Epic announced in a letter to parents, faculty and students on Tuesday that it would lay off staff due to a massive drop in enrollment. [KOSU]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Firefighters’ families go straight to City Hall to share their displeasure over contract proposal [Tulsa World]
  • New PSO franchise fee agreement on Tulsa ballot Feb. 8 [Tulsa World]
  • Norman Council accepts ward boundaries by resolution [The Norman Transcript]

Quote of the Day

“The last four [executions] if you go back six or seven years now, well that process is obviously flawed. We’ve had individuals on the table suffering for 20 and 30 minutes.” 

-Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board member Larry Morris speaking about the state’s execution process. He said he was “dumbfounded” that the board was voting on any death penalty cases with a pending federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection protocols [KOSU]

Number of the Day


Current number of people sentenced to death in Oklahoma [Oklahoma Department of Corrections]

Policy Notes

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


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.

Leave a Reply

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