In The Know: President Obama tours El Reno prison

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today In The News

President Obama tours El Reno prison: Wrapping up his trip to Oklahoma, President Obama visited a medium-security federal prison in El Reno and met privately with a group of inmates. Following the meeting, the President said that the inmates had made the same mistakes the President and others had made, but without “the kind of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would allow them to survive those mistakes.” He also discussed the need for comprehensive criminal justice reform, particularly for nonviolent drug offenses. President Obama is the first sitting president to visit a federal prison [Vice News]. The US is home to 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prisoners [NewsOK].

State Supreme Court declines to halt grand jury investigation into TSCO: Following arguments before a referee yesterday, the state Supreme Court today declined Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s request to block a grand jury investigation into his office. A jury pool of 100 Tulsa County residents has been summoned to appear at the county courthouse on  Monday morning [Tulsa World]. However, it’s possible that Sheriff Glanz could still request a stay or file a motion to reconsider at the district court level [Tulsa Frontier]. According to sources in the sheriff’s office, a disciplinary hearing will be held on Friday regarding the two Tulsa County deputies who held down Eric Harris after he had been shot and said “F–k your breath” after he said he couldn’t breathe [NewsOn6].

Oklahomans with criminal records face barriers to housing: A new in-depth report examines how Oklahoma’s major public housing assistance programs exclude people with felony records from accessing affordable housing. Excluding people with records from housing breaks up families, prevents ex-offenders from finding and holding work, and contributes to homelessness [OK Policy].

Thousands of Oklahomans with felony convictions unable to vote: More than 54,000 convicted felons – half of whom are no longer in prison – are not able to register to vote in Oklahoma because of a law that disenfranchises felons for the full length of their sentence. Many felons and ex-felons are unaware of whether they can vote or not, and registering to vote when ineligible to do so can result in another felony [NewsOK]. As African-Americans are disproportionately represented in the state’s criminal justice system, they are disproportionately disenfranchised [OK Policy].

Don’t feed misconceptions about food stamp program: A recent posts on the Oklahoma Republican Party’s Facebook page regarding food stamps ignited a firestorm of controversy at a time when increasing numbers of Oklahomans rely on food stamps to feed themselves and their families. Close to 900,000 Oklahomans access SNAP benefits per year, and the vast majority are children, people with disabilities and the elderly. Fewer than 2 percent are childless adults. Oklahomans rely on food stamps not because they are lazy or dependent but because of chronically persistent low wages and underemployment [The Oklahoman].

Attorney General Scott Pruitt responds to unclaimed property fund lawsuit: State Attorney General Scott Pruitt has asked a state district court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by lawyer Jerry Fent regarding the unclaimed property fund. Fent alleges that the state improperly used the fund to balance the state budget, while Pruitt argues that state law requires transfers into and out of the fund [Tulsa World].

Judge declines to dismiss parent-guardian lawsuit over Pauls Valley institution: Although the last residents have been removed from a Pauls Valley state institution for adults with developmental disabilities, a judge’s refusal to dismiss a lawsuit bought by a group of parents and guardians of the institution’s former residents make it possible that the facility could be re-opened in the future. DHS closed the facility as part of a transition to home- and community-based care [NewsOK].

University, monastery still recovering from 2011 quake: St. Gregory’s Catholic university and monastery in Shawnee, Oklahoma was severely damaged by a 2011 earthquake. One of the monastery buildings has been condemned, and several of the university’s towers were damaged. Year later, St. Gregory’s is still struggling to rebuild and repair the damage [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Quote of the Day

“Just because you were convicted of a felony doesn’t mean your ability to weigh in on the state’s government has no merit. Even if you’re released on exceptional behavior back into your community, working, spending time with your family and friends, you are still not a full citizen in Oklahoma.”

– Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, speaking about a rule that disallows Oklahomans convicted of felonies from voting for the full length of their sentence, regardless of whether they’ve been released early.  Some 54,000 Oklahomans are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma children who get health coverage through Medicaid, 1 in 2 of all kids in the state.

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

You Just Got Out of Prison. Now What?

When prisoners are released after serving long sentences, they may have substantial difficulty to adapting to life outside of prison. Two ex-offenders help the recently released acclimate to life outside [The New York Times].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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