In 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
Juvenile crime way down in Oklahoma, but discrepancies in arrests and incarceration haven’t changed: Juvenile crime in Oklahoma has fallen dramatically in Oklahoma over the past quarter century, but it’s not all good news. According to an analysis from Open Justice Oklahoma, since 1990, violent felonies are down 70% and property felonies 86%, with other offenses also down substantially. [Public Radio Tulsa]
In The News
Oklahoma AG hires Michigan law firm to aid state in gaming talks: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has hired a Michigan-based law firm to assist the state in renegotiating the tribal gaming compacts Hunter finalized an agreement with Dykema Gossett PLLC on Sept. 6 for the state to pay the firm up to $250,000 for advice and expertise on compact negotiations between the state and Oklahoma’s tribes. [The Oklahoman] What’s That? Tribal Gaming Compacts
Study finds 64% of Tulsa-area students lacked access to high-performing public schools in 2017-18: A quarter of public school students in the Tulsa area attended low-performing schools two years ago, while about 35% went to high-performing schools, according to a new study. [Tulsa World] Education did receive a funding increase from the legislature this year, but this funding does not fully restore the money that was lost over a decade of budget cuts.
Public records: Osage, Comanche tribes cited 2019 expiration in seeking new gaming compact negotiations with previous governor: Public records obtained through the Oklahoma Open Records Act show Osage Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Comanche Chairman William Nelson wrote to Fallin in November 2016 and February 2017, respectively, seeking negotiations for new gaming compacts between the State of Oklahoma and tribal governments. [Tulsa World] With tribal gaming numbers at record high in U.S., OKC tops Tulsa for growth and revenue. [Tulsa World]
Higher education chancellor announces retirement: Oklahoma’s top higher education official has announced his retirement, weeks after the governor said he wanted the chancellor gone. Glen D. Johnson announced Friday afternoon his intention to retire as chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education. [The Oklahoman]
Hofmeister calls for greater student access to high-quality computer science: While a new national report acknowledges Oklahoma has made progress in computer science coursework, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister noted the study also reveals that the state must do more or risk losing ground to other states. [CNHI]
Slower rise in Oklahoma’s obesity rate results in tie for No. 10 ranking with Texas: Oklahomans as a whole haven’t really lost any weight, but obesity rates in other states have increased enough to nearly push Oklahoma outside the top 10. [Tulsa World]
Public hearings set on food desert plan: Residents looking for alternatives to junk food in northeast Oklahoma City will be able to give their views on a “healthy options” zoning proposal beginning later this month. [The Oklahoman]
A painful side effect: Rise in heroin use feared amid crackdown on opioid addiction: Oklahoma has taken some important steps to help people avoid falling victim to opioid addiction, but blood, sweat and tears will undoubtedly be shed in the future as difficult work remains to help those already suffering from dependence on prescription painkillers. [Journal Record]
Vaccines poised to be hot topic at Capitol: A state representative said his recent informational meeting at the state Capitol focusing on adverse reactions to vaccines wasn’t meant to discourage people from vaccinating their children. [CNHI]
No reported state deaths from vaping, but health officials urge caution: Vaping-related deaths have been reported across the nation, but while none have yet been recorded in Oklahoma, health advocates are urging the public to stop using e-cigarettes and similar devices. [Tulsa World]
Office of Juvenile Affairs hires new chief psychologist: As the new chief psychologist for the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs, Dr. Paul Shawler sees every day as an opportunity to influence the lives of young people throughout Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]
Prisons locked down statewide after multiple fights, one death: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has locked down its prisons after multiple fights broke out at facilities across the state this weekend. Fighting reportedly began Saturday at the Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center in Vinita. [Tulsa World] Prisons have been dangerously understaffed for almost a decade.
The Oklahoman Editorial: Increase in Oklahoma paroles not cause for alarm: Combine criminal justice reform with new people on the state Pardon and Parole Board and different approaches to the board’s work, and you get what Oklahoma is seeing — a jump in the number of recommendations for parole or for sentence commutations. [The Oklahoman] These new approaches to parole are a welcome change from a parole system that was broken.
Community leaders work to address childhood trauma, psychological distress: As the impact of adverse childhood experiences and of trauma gains more attention, agencies and stakeholders in communities across the state are looking at ways to mitigate negative effects and promote resilience and protective factors. [The Oklahoman] Family finances are an important, and often overlooked, piece of child well-being.
In 3 years since Terence Crutcher’s death, Tulsa Police added one policy. More could reduce killings by officers, a researcher says: In the three years since a Tulsa police officer killed Terence Crutcher, a policing reform researcher says the department has improved an aspect of its use-of-force policy, but it still needs more work. [Tulsa World] ‘Something I was thrust into’: Tiffany Crutcher fights for justice, police reform long after her brother’s death. [Tulsa World]
What happened to Mayor Bynum’s police oversight proposal? Tulsa City Council not completely sold on it: Bynum’s proposal called for the OIM to engage in community outreach, review best practices and recommend policy. But it was the independent monitor’s role in reviewing police use-of-force incidents that sparked the real controversy. [Tulsa World] Check out our report on community policing to see how law enforcement can build trust with the communities they serve.
Hulbert library patrons can checkout mobile hotspots: The $5,000 grant from AARP Oklahoma funds 22 internet hotspots that are now available in public libraries in four rural Oklahoma communities: Hulbert, Pauls Valley, Blackwell, and Inola. The grant also funds data services for seven devices that OSU previously placed in the Okemah Public Library. [CNHI]
Climate change may be affecting tornadoes: Weather scientists know that Earth’s changing climate has serious and long-ranging effects, but its link to severe weather is still under intense scrutiny. For events like tornadoes, which are microscopic compared with global climate research, there seems to be a connection. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma reacts to changing climate. [The Oklahoman]
Quote of the Day
“If we do this right, we can change not just our kids, but this community. Mental health is an issue in this community and to say it’s a priority in the district, that means 10 years down the road, 20 years down the road, we have a healthier community. It’s almost overwhelming to think the long-term impact this could make.”
– Teri Bell, executive director of student support services for Oklahoma City Public Schools, on the new programs to address student trauma in the district [The Oklahoman]
Number of the Day
Share of federal tax cuts from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that go to Americans with the bottom 60 percent of incomes.
With a focus on food sovereignty, rural Appalachian Ohio is rebounding: For the nearly 500 current residents, the nearest full-service grocers are roughly 20 miles away in the cities of Athens and Belpre. Though the dollar store and gas station sell some food, fresh produce is in rare supply, making programs like the Summer Food Bus a lifeline for many residents. [Civil Eats]
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