In The Know: Reforms reduce Oklahoma County jail population, more commutations recommended, 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: Fixing the broken criminal justice system: This should not be a news flash to anyone who follows Oklahoma’s state of affairs, but our state’s criminal justice system is broken. Oklahoma’s punishment-first approach to criminal justice has produced the nation’s second-highest per capita incarceration rate in the nation. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record]

In The News

Recent reforms lead more than 30% decrease in average inmate population at Oklahoma County jail: The average number of inmates at the Oklahoma County jail has decreased by more than 30 percent, which community leaders attribute to new approaches for criminal justice reform. [The Oklahoman] Participants on a criminal justice reform panel told members and guests of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber that much work remains to achieve more success through programs of prevention, intervention and diversion. [The Journal Record ????] OK Policy has found that modernizing Oklahoma’s criminal code and improving access to treatment can help address Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis. 

Pardon and Parole Board recommends commutation for another 149 people eligible for single-stage docket: The Pardon and Parole Board voted Wednesday to recommend commutation for another 149 nonviolent drug offenders who were eligible for a single-stage docket made possible by a recent law change, board Executive Director Steven Bickley said. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy has called for the state to provide a dedicated re-entry system for those returning from prison.

‘No definitive plans’ to close any Oklahoma prisons, director says: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has “no definitive plans” to close any prisons, Director Scott Crow said Wednesday. Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, issued a news release last week urging people to voice their support for William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply, one of five prisons he said “could be targeted for possible closure.” [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa World Editorial: Oklahoma needs a stronger criminal justice reform plan than what was offered by Gov. Stitt’s task force: After a year of work behind closed doors, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s criminal justice task force has produced a disappointing set of recommendations that doesn’t represent sufficient progress on the issue and asks for another year to look at critical elements. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Company founded by Gov. Stitt seeks further taxpayer subsidies for job creation: The Jenks-based company founded by Gov. Kevin Stitt is seeking to continue receiving state taxpayer subsidies through an Oklahoma Department of Commerce job creation incentive program, which has already paid the company more than $876,000 since December 2017. [The Frontier]

December oil and gas GPT collections down 40%: General Revenue Fund collections in December totaled $631.8 million, up $11.2 million, or 1.8%, from December 2018. Collections for the month were $8.9 million, or 1.4 percent, below the monthly estimate. [The Journal Record ????] Oklahoma’s December general revenue falls just short of projection despite $631 million influx. [Tulsa World]

Here’s what happened to $829 million Oklahoma was awarded to treat opioid addiction: The state is entitled to $829 million from settlements with drug companies or court orders. But so far, none of the money has been spent on opioid addiction treatment. Here’s where the money stands for each company or group. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Death penalty talks begin, but it’s unclear when executions will resume: Spokespeople for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Attorney General’s Office and Gov. Kevin Stitt all told The Frontier recently the three groups had begun to discuss a path forward for the resumption of executions, but none offered examples of what that road might consist of. [The Frontier]

Column: Adverse Childhood Experiences plague Oklahoma’s children: The latest report from America’s Health Rankings shows a slight improvement in Oklahoma on a critical child wellbeing area, Adverse Childhood Experiences also called ACEs. Sadly, Oklahoma is still the worst in the nation in the frequency of Adverse Childhood Experiences among our children, but awareness is making a difference. [Joe Dorman / The Ada News]

Legislator pushes bills to help homeless youth in Oklahoma City: An Oklahoma legislator is working with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to slash red tape that can prevent unaccompanied homeless youth from receiving medical care due to a lack of parental consent. [The Oklahoman]

Bill filed to align Oklahoma with federal minimum age to buy tobacco products: An Oklahoma lawmaker has filed legislation that would bring Oklahoma’s tobacco laws in line with the new federal law raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products. [KOCO]

State senator files bill to prohibit sanctuary cities in Oklahoma: Under Senate Bill 1459, which was filed by Sen. Nathan Dahm, any city or town that enacts a sanctuary policy would be ineligible for state funding through agencies or grants. [KOCO]

Workshop helps students not sold on traditional four-year degree explore career paths: Dozens of area high-school students who may not go straight to college got a chance Wednesday to learn about different career paths from experts in the fields. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Mayor Bynum narrows field of Tulsa police chief internal candidates tofFour: After a round of interviews, Mayor G.T. Bynum has picked four finalists out of the seven internal candidates vying to be the next chief of the Tulsa Police Department. [Public Radio Tulsa] Bynum said he is assembling a panel of local residents to question those candidates. [Tulsa World]

Making it safer for OKC cyclists: As of 2017, Oklahoma City ranked as the 15th most dangerous city for cyclists, according to a report released last week from CarInsurance .org, compiled from federal traffic safety information. [The Journal Record ????]

Paving agriculture’s future: Fergusons donate $50 million to OSU for new agriculture building, endowment: One of the largest donations in the history of Oklahoma State University was celebrated Wednesday afternoon, as the announcement of the New Frontiers campaign will pave the way for the new Ferguson College of Agriculture. [Stillwater News Press]

Oklahoma among states in $200,000 PayPal charity settlement: The attorneys general of Oklahoma and 20 other states have reached a $200,000 agreement with PayPal Charitable Giving Fund Inc. to settle complaints over its handling of charitable contributions through the company’s online fundraising platform. [AP News]

‘New NAFTA’ deal moves closer to Senate, shows potential for Oklahoma: The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted nearly unanimously to move the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act, or USMCA, closer toward a vote on the Senate floor. [NonDoc]

100 years since Prohibition started, its legacy is cited as ‘War on Drugs’ persists for decades: The Prohibition Era, which lasted from Jan. 17, 1920, until December 1933, is now viewed as a failed experiment that glamorized illegal drinking, but there are several intriguing parallels in current times. Prohibition’s centennial comes as the United States is incrementally ending the criminalization of marijuana. [AP /Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I’ve seen generations of people come through the justice system, and it affects all of us.”

-Greg Williams, Chief Executive Officer of the Oklahoma County Jail Authority [The Journal Record ????

Number of the Day


Average state and local sales tax rate in Oklahoma, ranking us as the 7th highest sales tax state

[Source: Tax Foundation]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Extending Medicaid after childbirth could reduce maternal deaths: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 out of 5 of those deaths could be prevented with adequate medical attention. But Medicaid pregnancy coverage, which pays for nearly half of all births in the United States, expires 60 days after childbirth, leaving many women without health insurance at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. [Pew Trusts]

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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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