In The Know: Oklahoma’s family-‍separation crisis; gearing up for 2020 Census; one week left until election day…

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.

In The News

America’s other family-‍separation crisis: America imprisons women in astonishing numbers. The population of women in state prisons has increased by more than eight hundred per cent in the past four decades. The number of women in local jails is fourteen times higher than it was in the nineteen-seventies; most of these women haven’t been convicted of a crime but are too poor to post bail while awaiting trial. Nowhere is this problem starker than in Oklahoma. [The New Yorker] Women and girls are one of the fastest growing populations in America’s jails and prisons, and their numbers are increasing rapidly, even as incarceration rates fall for other demographics. [Jezebel]

Oklahoma officials gearing up for 2020 Census: Oklahoma officials Monday announced that they’ve started gearing up for the upcoming U.S. Census — even though it’s still more than 500 days away. “It will come really quick,” said Joe Chiappe, director of research and economic analysis with Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Tied to billions in federal funding, the census is used to determine the number of representatives the state gets in Congress as well as to redistrict state House and Senate seats, Chiappe said. Private businesses also rely on the data to determine new locations and business expansion plans. [Woodward News]

Oklahoma has fifth-highest youth obesity rate: Oklahoma youth had the fifth-highest obesity rate in the country, and it may actually be worse, since the data relies on parents to estimate their children’s heights and weights. About 18.7 percent of Oklahoma kids ages 10 to 17 had obesity in 2016 and 2017, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. [NewsOK]

Interim studies grapple with foster care changes, the cost of child care, and family reunification: The House committee on Children, Youth and Families last week considered three separate interim studies. The first concerned the new federal Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018, a new law to redirect federal foster care funding. Importantly, it does not provide new federal funding; it just redesigns the programs. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Federal funding changes could help fewer Oklahoma kids go into foster care: Oklahoma kids at risk of going into foster care could benefit from changes to federal funding for child welfare. With passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act, more funding will be available starting next year for things like in-home parenting classes, mental health and substance abuse treatment. [Public Radio Tulsa]

$32M grant to boost Oklahoma child care subsidy: State officials hope a $32 million federal grant will help more Oklahoma families pay for child care. The money will largely go toward increasing child care subsidies offered by the state. Paul Shinn with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services said over the past 15 years, subsidy use has generally decreased, but not for good reasons. [Public Radio Tulsa] We previously wrote about some of the reasons why child care is getting less accessible for Oklahoma’s working parents here.

Tulsa police concerned about new sex offender laws: Starting Thursday, sex offenders are going to learn there is basically no place left in the city for them to live. The new law says no sex offender can live within 500 feet of any victim of any sex crime, whether that crime happened last year or 20 years ago. Tulsa police say the new sex offender laws will essentially make the entire city of Tulsa out of bounds for sex offenders to live, which they say essentially makes citizens less safe than they were before. [News On 6]

DOC preparing legislative agenda: Lawmakers will start working on drafts soon, and the Department of Corrections is working on its list of requests for the next session. There is a slew of propositions, including one allowing soon-to-retire corrections employees to buy their guns, another giving agents in halfway homes immunity when administering Narcan and a proposal to strengthen the laws requiring state agencies to buy goods from Oklahoma Correctional Industries. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma to get some of its money back if seizure drug doesn’t perform: Oklahoma’s Medicaid program will get some of its money back if an epilepsy drug doesn’t keep patients out of the hospital, the first time a state has reached such an agreement. The agreement applies only to Fycompa, an anti-seizure drug the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved in 2012 for certain types of epilepsy. [NewsOK]

Applications open for Spring interns!: OK Policy is now accepting student applicants for paid part-time internships during the spring of 2019! Interns have the opportunity to work as full members of the OK Policy team and participate in most activities of the organization. [OK Policy]

In One Minute: Early voting and absentee ballots: Early voting at the polls begins this week. And if you want to cast an absentee ballot, the deadline to apply is Oct. 31. Find out more in this 60-second video, presented by Oklahoma Watch in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma gubernatorial candidates to focus on cities with one week left: Candidates for governor plan to spend the final week of the campaign continuing to sell themselves as agents of change, with a particular focus on the state’s two largest cities. Early voting is set to begin on Thursday but Election Day is Nov. 6, giving Democrat Drew Edmondson and Republican Kevin Stitt one more week to make their final pitch to voters through a wave of commercials, rallies and stump speeches. [NewsOK]

Suburbs could swing governor’s race, school-focused voters in play: Keri Shipley’s marked up sample ballot ahead of next week’s election largely looks like that of a registered Republican, which she has been for 28 years. She plans to support Republican candidates for the state House, state schools superintendent, lieutenant governor and several other seats. But at the top of her ballot will be a vote in favor of Drew Edmondson, the Democratic nominee for governor. [NewsOK]

Q&A for House District 34 Candidates: Republican Aaron Means, a retired dentist who served in the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Public Health Service, and Democrat Trish Ranson, a former music teacher, are vying for the Oklahoma House Seat in District 34, which encompasses most of the city of Stillwater. [Stillwater News-Press]

Grey seeking to unseat Caldwell in duel for HD 40 seat: The contentious race for the House District 40 seat is set to conclude in the Nov. 6 general election, the winner of which will be either Norman Grey or Chad Caldwell. Republican nominee Caldwell, the incumbent to the seat, emerged victorious over Taylor Venus in the primary election with 2,503 votes, or 53.2 percent. Democrat nominee Grey didn’t face any opposition in the primary election. [Enid News & Eagle]

Video Breakdown: State Question 794: Our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged is not solely focused on informative and in-depth radio stories. We also want to strip away all extraneous information and get down to the bare bones of state questions. And to do that, we again commissioned videos from Blake Behrens of Radfive Creative. [KOSUSee more background information and arguments for and against SQ 794 on OK Policy’s fact sheet here.

Educators oppose SQ 801: Area educators generally oppose a state question that would allow ad valorem tax levies to be used for school districts’ operational uses, such as personnel. The Nov. 6 general election will include State Question 801, which says the measure would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to expand uses permitted for certain ad valorem tax levies. [Claremore Daily ProgressSee more background information and arguments for and against SQ 801 on OK Policy’s fact sheet here.

‘We need to do more’: A Pawnee woman embraces the power of the vote: Jamie Nelson grew up in the rural town of Pawnee, just north of Stillwater and east of Perry. She is Pawnee and Choctaw-Navajo, and at age 27 she has never voted in a non-tribal, statewide election. “Now that I’m older, you know, I do see a lot of change that’s going on around our community and within our state. So it seemed like a good time,” Nelson said. [KOSU]

Quote of the Day

“I think the main moment that made me realize I want to vote…we need to do more for our kids, more for our youth, more for our community.”

-Jamie Nelson, a Pawnee and Choctaw-Navajo who is planning to vote in state elections for the first time this year after previously only voting in tribal elections [KOSU]

Number of the Day


Percentage of incarcerated women in Oklahoma suffering from mental illness (2016).


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Women in prison punished more harshly than men around the country: Although female inmates are less likely than their male counterparts to act out violently in prison, they receive more disciplinary tickets for minor offenses — matters that are unlikely to compromise safety. Experts say that this disparity stems in part from women’s attempts to cope with the lingering effects of trauma in an environment that exacerbates it. [Chicago Reporter]

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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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