In The Know: Mental health groups fill prison re-entry gap, Stitt calls for cutting 25% of state regs, and 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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Making our tax code work for working families: Oklahoma’s state motto – Labor omnia vincit (“Work conquers all”) – suggests we are a state that prioritizes work, yet our state tax policy does not accurately align with these values. With the state’s budget recovering, giving working families a tax break should be a priority. This should be the year that Oklahoma lawmakers undo a 2016 cut that harmed more than 200,000 working Oklahoma families. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

In The News

Shorthanded mental health groups prepare for high caseloads after nation’s largest commutation: People just released from prison could save themselves a lot of time and frustration if they talk to Robert Scott, the director of justice services at HOPE Community Services – a nonprofit that partners with the state to help people with behavioral health challenges. [StateImpact Oklahoma] OK Policy has argued that the state needs a dedicated re-entry system and should increase access to mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment

Stitt aims to slash state regulations by 25%: Impressed by the impact of President Donald Trump’s executive order to reduce federal regulations, Gov. Kevin Stitt plans to implement a similar policy in Oklahoma. Stitt plans to sign an executive order aimed at reducing the number of regulations Oklahoma has on the books. [The Oklahoman]

Sentencing reform: Criminal justice reform advocates want to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to prohibit sentence enhancements based on previous felonies for nonviolent offenders. The measure would also allow nonviolent offenders serving enhanced sentences to seek a modification in court. [Oklahoma Gazette]

Fees that tribes pay to state in limbo amid compact dispute: The fate of millions of dollars in exclusivity fees tribes pay the state in exchange for operating Class III gaming is up in the air. In a memo from the Governor’s Office to lawmakers and Cabinet members, a Stitt spokeswoman said his office is “actively researching this matter.” [Tulsa World]

Lawmaker wants to ban medical marijuana near churches: State Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, said a constituent, who’s a Baptist church pastor, approached him, suggesting new dispensaries be banned near churches and other religious sites across the state. [CNHI]

Stay with internal candidates or go national in search for next Tulsa police chief? Tulsans give Mayor Bynum differing advice: Mayor G.T. Bynum’s final public meeting to gather input on the city’s next police chief ended as the first one began — with calls for a better and more humane Police Department and disagreement over whether the mayor should look outside the city to fill the position. [Tulsa World]

Mayor Bynum rejects calls for Tulsa Police to be off ‘Live PD’ TV show: The loudest exchange Wednesday during the town hall on the next Tulsa police chief came when a speaker asked the mayor to commit to canceling the city’s contract to have the police force appear on “Live PD.” [Tulsa World]

Delay in first city jail death info out of caution, unfamiliarity: Police attribute the trickle of information on the Tulsa municipal jail’s first death to just that: the city and Police Department haven’t dealt with such an incident before. [Tulsa World]

Metro-area residents needed for Oklahoma City’s housing market and affordability survey: Oklahoma City is asking metro residents to fill out a housing market and affordability survey to help city planners identify concerns and create long-term policies. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners on Wednesday expressed continued concerns with a fund that helps keep rural telecommunications services affordable: The Public Utility Division of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is looking at the books of telecommunications service providers that contribute to a state universal service fund intended to help keep those services affordable in rural parts of the state. [The Oklahoman]

Area codes: The 405 becoming the 405/572: The North American Numbering Plan Administrator, which oversees much of the continent’s telephone area codes, announced Thursday that 572 will be the numerical designation for an overlay area code authorized for central Oklahoma this week. [The Oklahoman]

Embattled Oklahoma County district judge criticized again: Two appellate judges sharply criticized an Oklahoma County district judge Wednesday for not taking herself off criminal cases after being charged. [The Oklahoman]

Attacks on state government data systems soar to nearly 200 million a day in wake of Iran tensions: On a normal day, the state of Oklahoma turns aside in excess of 50 million unauthorized attempts to access its networks, computers and data storage. In the past week, as tensions between the U.S. and Iran mounted, that figure reached nearly 200 million. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma to issue REAL IDs April 30, mandatory to fly next October: After multiple extensions from the federal government, Oklahoma will roll out REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses starting April 30. [Tulsa World]

Four more flu-related deaths reported in Oklahoma: The most recent flu report shows four more Oklahomans have died from flu-related illness and more than 180 others were hospitalized. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Oklahoma hands down extremely long sentences for nonviolent offenses compared to the national average. Long prison sentences don’t just impact individuals serving time, but their entire family.”

– Sue Ann Arnall, president of Arnall Family Foundation and member of the Oklahoma County jail trust [Oklahoma Gazette]

Number of the Day


The percentage of women in Oklahoma prisons with a history of or currently presenting symptoms of severe mental illness.

[Source: Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A few simple questions could help doctors stem the suicide epidemic: Compelling research shows an alarming number of emergency room patients coming in for unrelated problems have nascent, undetected suicidal thoughts — a large population who might be saved if doctors and nurses would simply ask if they’re having suicidal thoughts. [Washington Post]

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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.

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