In The Know: Property seized by law enforcement misspent, missing

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

Audit records show state law enforcement misusing seized property: Under a practice called ‘civil asset forfeiture,’ law enforcement are authorized to seize money and property they have reason to suspect is involved in the commission of a crime. Authorities can keep the assets regardless of whether the suspect is charged or convicted, although the proceeds are supposed to be used to enforce drug laws or drug-abuse prevention. However, state audit data shows that, on occasion, Oklahoma law enforcement have used seized property for personal use: an assistant defense attorney lived rent-free in a seized house for years, and seized money was used to pay for a prosecutor’s student loans [Oklahoma Watch]. A further listing of the audit’s findings is available here.

President Obama comes to Oklahoma: Speaking in Durant on Wednesday, President Obama announced Connect Home, which works to close the digital divide between students with easy access to internet and those without. The program plans to offer free or reduced-cost high-speed internet service in 27 communities around the US and the Choctaw Nation. President Obama spoke publicly at Durant High School for about 30 minutes and met privately with a group of Native American teenagers for about an hour [Tulsa World]. The full text of his speech is available here. A group convened a rally around the Confederate battle flag in Durant prior to the President’s arrival, although due the property owners’ requests, the group was forced to relocate several times [Tulsa World]. The President will tour the Federal Correction Institution El Reno on Thursday – the first sitting president to visit a federal prison [NewsOK].

Health care wonks, execs encourage state to accept Affordable Care Act: At a forum convened by the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Wednesday, representatives from a range of organizations involved in health care policy in Oklahoma urged the Governor and the Legislature to take advantage of the opportunities created by the Affordable Care Act, including job creation and the expansion of health coverage to uninsured Oklahomans. Although the panel was agreed on the health law’s benefits, many expressed concern that the political will isn’t present to expand coverage to over 100,000 Oklahomans who are currently unable to access health coverage [Journal Record]. The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board called on the state to broaden coverage by expand its its popular Insure Oklahoma [Tulsa World]. Insure Oklahoma currently covers nearly 18,000 Oklahomans with a combination of state and federal funds [OK Policy].

Happy birthday, Medicare and Medicaid: The country’s primary two public insurance programs turn 50 this month. Medicare dramatically lowered the nation’s uninsured rate for seniors and contributed a 5-year increase to life expectancy, while more than 1 in 2 Oklahoma children is covered by the state’s Medicaid program [Journal Record].

Nineteen Oklahomans saved by overdose antidote: Since the Tulsa Police Department began equipping its officers with a fast-acting medication to counteract the effects of an opiate overdose about one year ago, 19 Oklahomans have been saved by the medication. Although she applauded the program’s success, state commissioner of mental health and substance abuse Terri White pointed to the need to work to treat addiction before such drastic interventions are necessary [NewsOK]. During this year’s legislative session, a bill was passed and signed into law requiring doctors to check a statewide database of prescriptions for opiates and other addictive drugs in an effort to stem the state’s addiction epidemic [OK Policy].

State Supreme Court to decide fate of Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office grand jury investigation: A state Supreme Court referee oversaw a hearing over whether a grand jury should be empaneled to investigate the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday. We the People Oklahoma had collected the requisite number of signatures required to empanel a jury, but Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz contends that the signatures were collected improperly. Thursday’s arguments also concerned whether Sheriff Glanz has standing to challenge the petition. Unless the state Supreme Court intercedes, the jury will convene on Monday at 9am in Tulsa [Tulsa World].

Award from EPA to help Oklahoma monitor air quality: The EPA has awarded Oklahoma a grant of nearly $650,000 to monitor fine particulate matter, such as smoke and haze, in the state’s atmosphere [TribTown].

Quote of the Day

“The ACA is here to stay. It’s time for Oklahoma to stop fighting this reality and instead look at the enormous opportunity this creates.”

– David Blatt, executive director of Oklahoma Policy Institute, speaking at a Tulsa Regional Chamber forum on health care reform in Oklahoma. Expanding health coverage to low-income Oklahomans would provide over one hundred thousand people with access to needed care, create thousands of jobs, bring billions of dollars into the state, and alleviate pressure on struggling rural hospitals (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of hours a minimum-wage worker in Oklahoma has to work per week to afford a one-bedroom rental unit at fair market rent (spending no more than 30 percent of their income on rent)

Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Where Are the Children?

The kidnapper sounded polite, even deferential, when she called on a Tuesday afternoon last May. Melida Lemus and Alfredo Godoy had left their clapboard house in Trenton, New Jersey, to pick up their two daughters from school. Godoy, who works in construction, was late to meet a client for whom he was building a home extension, and his family accompanied him to the project site. Melida and the girls—Kathryn, twelve, and Jennifer, seventeen—waited in the client’s living room, snacking on cookies and checking Instagram, while Alfredo walked through the house, taking specs: how much Sheetrock he’d need, how much spackle, how many two-by-fours. In the middle of the tour, his cell phone rang. The call came from a Texas area code.

Read more from The New Yorker.

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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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