In The Know: Lawmakers ask about prison closure | Pandemic relief drove state income growth | Mental health needs in prisons, jails

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

State leaders discuss ‘significant impact’ of closing William S. Key prison: On May 13, the same day that the Oklahoma Legislature announced its annual budget agreement, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections created a “draft” proposal to close the William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply, a small town in northwest Woodward County that relies heavily on the prison for jobs and economic activity. [NonDoc] Public safety and corrections officials answered questions Tuesday from Oklahoma lawmakers on the planned closing of William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply. According to the Department of Corrections, there are currently 414 inmates at the prison, not even 40% of its capacity. [Public Radio Tulsa] Tricia Everest, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s secretary of public safety, said William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply is a 19th century prison that needs more than $30 million in immediate repairs. She said closing the 1,100-bed prison about 15 miles northwest of Woodward, is “right and proper,” but acknowledged officials bungled the communication. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle] Everest said the decision to close the prison was a pragmatic one based on the state’s decreasing prison population and a buildup of deferred maintenance costs at the facility. [The Oklahoman]

She spent six months in an Oklahoma jail waiting for mental health treatment: Grace Franklin, who has no prior criminal record, would instead spend most of the next six months locked inside the Stephens County jail with her case in legal limbo, unable to understand the charge against her or assist an attorney with her defense. She joined a long waiting list of mentally ill people held in jails across Oklahoma found incompetent to stand trial. [The Frontier]

COVID-19 stimulus checks help fuel Oklahoma income growth, analysis shows: The federal government has made more than $10 billion in direct payments to Oklahomans during the pandemic, with about half of that coming since President Joe Biden took office in January. Stimulus payments from the American Rescue Plan Act have been made to 1.97 million Oklahomans through June 3 and have totaled $4.9 billion, according to the IRS. [The Oklahoman]

  • Federal aid crucial to OKC schools’ $857 million budget [The Oklahoman]

Health News

COVID-19: Health officials urge awareness of different virus symptoms as delta variant looms: Health officials are urging residents to be aware of new symptoms possible under a quick-spreading COVID-19 variant as it marches down the Interstate 44 corridor from southwestern Missouri to the Oklahoma City metro area. [Tulsa World] Some of the most commonly reported symptoms with the more-contagious delta variant — which was first identified in India and is now spreading in the U.S. — include headache, sore throat, runny nose and fever, said Dr. Dale Bratzler, the University of Oklahoma’s chief COVID-19 officer. [The Oklahoman]

  • Experts say delta variant of COVID-19 is more contagious but fully-vaccinated people have less to worry about [The Oklahoman]
  • Text messages may boost vaccination rates, study says [USA Today]
  • COVID continues in Comanche County, vaccine rates stay low [The Lawton Constitution]

National blood shortage continues to strain local health centers; donors still sought: When mass casualty incidents like the June 12 shooting that killed one and injured 13 others in Austin, Texas, occur, local blood needs can often be supplemented by neighboring regional organizations. A national blood shortage has left most regional providers unable to spare much, however. [Tulsa World] The Oklahoma Blood Institute is urging potential donors to give immediately with blood supplies down to an emergency low level. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Government News

Term-limited Oklahoma lawmaker to run for state treasurer: A term-limited Republican state House member from Cordell said Tuesday he plans to run for Oklahoma state treasurer. Rep. Todd Russ, 60, is a longtime banker who is finishing his sixth term in the House, where he represents parts of five western Oklahoma counties. [AP News] Earlier this month, Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten announced plans to run for treasurer. Treasurer Randy McDaniel previously announced he would not seek reelection in 2022. [The Oklahoman]

New law allows bottle service for small businesses, effective Thursday: House Bill 2726 introduces language into the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Control Act allowing Oklahoma small businesses to offer bottle service to customers. Supporters said bottle service has become more popular in other states, especially with young people, and this will allow Oklahoma businesses to remain competitive. [The Lawton Constitution]

Seed-to-sale: Restraining order in place for medical marijuana business requirement until further court action: An Okmulgee County judge has agreed to keep a temporary order in place that prevents enforcement of a state contract with an out-of-state medical cannabis seed-to-sale contract provider. [Tulsa World]

Education News

OKCPS to spend $2 million on revamped school resource officer program: The Oklahoma City School District Board of Education approved a budget of $2 million for its School Resource Officer contract with the Oklahoma City Police Department (OKCPD) for the next school year starting July 1. Eighteen OKCPD officers will be SROs in the program. [OKC Free Press]

OU community members fear potential negative financial impact on low-income students following tuition increase: The OU Board of Regents’ June 22 decision to increase tuition costs by 2.75 percent following three years without increases has been met with disapproval from both students and faculty. [OU Daily]

Oklahoma Local News

  • University of Oklahoma Health promises better service, more research with hospital merger [The Oklahoman]
  • City of Tulsa urges caution after thousands of police reports, personal data leaked [The Black Wall Street Times]

Quote of the Day

“The jails are the long term hospitals now for people with diagnosed mental illness.”

-Marilyn Welton, whose son  has been arrested dozens of times and has been in and out of jail over the past 30 years while battling mental illness. Her family is launching a new nonprofit to provide advocacy and legal support for people with severe mental mental illness.  [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


Percentage of children under age 6 with all parents in the labor force in Oklahoma. Lack of available childcare is a major expense that impacts parents and caregivers returning to the workforce

[Source: KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

Dollars and Sense: Affordability of Childcare: Quality childcare is a two-generational approach to economic opportunity that offers benefits for many working parents and their young children. It can boost work productivity for parents and serves as an effective intervention for children, improving kindergarten readiness and future school success. [Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

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.