In The Know: New jail won’t fix Oklahoma County’s criminal justice needs, report shows

In The KnowIn The K now 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.

Today In The News

Early-bird registration is now open for our 2017 State Budget Summit. In addition, we’re hiring a policy analyst and spring research interns. 

New jail won’t fix Oklahoma County’s criminal justice needs, report shows: A new jail will not fix Oklahoma County’s problems. That is one of the key points in a report released Wednesday by the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce’s criminal justice reform task force. …City leaders hosted a news conference Wednesday at the Oklahoma City police headquarters to outline the findings of the task force, which started its efforts last December [NewsOK]. The report is available here.

Medical marijuana won’t fix Oklahoma’s budget problems: The movement to legalize marijuana is riding high. This year voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada joined Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota voted to allow medical marijuana. Oklahoma narrowly missed out joining the latter group this year. Proponents gathered enough signatures to put medical marijuana on the ballot as SQ 788, but they submitted the signatures too late to make the 2016 elections [OK Policy].

Governor Fallin praises justice reform task force’s work toward significant proposal: Governor Mary Fallin today announced she will extend the deadline for her justice reform task force to provide more time to strengthen its proposals. The governor will modify an executive order that had previously called for the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force’s work to be complete by Thursday, Dec. 15. “To deliver the type of significant improvement Oklahoma needs, I am asking the task force to take the achievable, responsible ideas it already has a step further,” said Fallin [The Pryor Daily Times]. Here’s what we can expect from their suggestions [OK Policy].

Fallin predicts $500M-$600M hole in upcoming Oklahoma budget: Gov. Mary Fallin says early projections are that Oklahoma will have a hole in next year’s state budget of as much as $600 million, or nearly 10 percent of state spending on the current year’s budget. Fallin said Wednesday she expects a projected shortfall of between $500 million to $600 million when the State Board of Equalization meets next week to certify available revenues [NewsOK].

Prosperity Policy: Trigger warning: This time last year, Oklahoma was in the middle of a massive budget crisis. The state twice made across-the-board budget cuts that hammered our schools, roads, and other key building blocks of our economy. A $1.3 billion budget shortfall would lead to even deeper cuts to this year’s budget. Yet at a time when we could least afford it, another income tax cut took effect in January – adding $150 million to the budget hole. The cut was triggered based on legislation passed in 2014, when oil prices were booming and legislators were not expecting a budget crisis anytime soon [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Many on state task force want school report-card overhaul delayed: About one-fourth of the task force that worked on a proposal to overhaul Oklahoma’s A-F school grading system is now seeking to delay its advancement to the Legislature. In a letter delivered to state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and the members of the state Board of Education on Tuesday, 51 individuals requested more time for the state Assessments and Accountability Task Force to complete its work. Among the signatures are 25 members of the 95-member task force that worked on the proposal [Tulsa World].

School Report Cards Would Pioneer Use of Race, Poverty Status: Oklahoma’s new plan for school accountability will, if approved, pioneer a way of setting academic goals based on subgroups such as race and economic disadvantage, the plan’s lead researcher says. The method combines student achievement and achievement gap reduction into one measure, said Marianne Perie, a University of Kansas researcher who authored the final report on Oklahoma’s accountability system, made public last week [Oklahoma Watch]. The full report is available here.

Oklahoma City Public School Principals Have Concerns About District Leadership: Principals in the Oklahoma City Public School district are not pleased with their new superintendent, Aurora Lora, and have concerns about some of the changes she is making. They also contend that over the past two years district administrators have created a very negative climate throughout the schools. At the OKCPS Board meeting on Monday night, a lawyer, representing the district’s building administrators, presented Lora with a letter claiming that morale has been declining due to ineffective leadership, a lack of communication, and administrators that exert control through force and fear [KGOU].

Okla. mental health services searching for funds: One out of every four Oklahomans will deal with mental illness or addiction; two out of three can’t get the help they need, which factors into the two Oklahomans who take their own life every day. The mental health task force, as part of a Pathways to a healthy Stephens County, and other mental health and substance abuse service professionals got the chance to speak with Commissioner Terri White of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) Tuesday [The Duncan Banner]. Budget cuts have added to the cost of mental illness in Oklahoma [OK Policy].

‘It can tear a family apart’: The opioid crisis sweeps through Cherokee Nation: Dr. Anna Miller sits with her legs pulled up, boots kicked off, in an exam chair at Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital. She’s waiting for her first Suboxone patient of the day. She knows the odds are stacked against these patients struggling to get off opioids. She’s seen firsthand how crooked the path to recovery can be. She also knows she has a few singular advantages, unique to Indian Country, in tackling the crisis [STAT].

Oklahoma’s New Portal Seeks to Help Thousands on Medicaid Waiver Waiting List: Following the recommendation of a Blue Ribbon Panel and an Executive Order from Gov. Mary Fallin, Oklahoma officials are developing a Web portal that could speed up service delivery for thousands who may have waited years to learn whether they qualify for a medical waiver. One of many issues addressed in April 2015 by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel for Developmental Disabilities was how to better serve thousands of Oklahomans seeking community services from the state Developmental Disabilities Services Division (DDSD) of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services [Government Technology]. Thousands of Oklahomans with disabilities are waiting a decade for services [OK Policy].

Smoother roads in Oklahoma City could require tax bump: The Oklahoma City council on Tuesday weighed merits of seeking a modest property tax increase to tackle backlogged needs, particularly street repairs. Taxpayers in the last 25 years have broadly supported streets, drainage, parks and other public investments, said Ward 4 Councilman Pete White. But a refusal to raise tax rates has allowed needs to outpace resources, he said [NewsOK].

Oklahoma earthquakes prompt legal action: Walk the streets of Cushing these days and you’ll see loose bricks littering the sidewalks, boarded-up storefront windows, blocked entryways into historic buildings and posted “closed for repairs” signs. A few days after a 5.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Payne County community in early November, the city’s manager classified damage from the manmade quake as “substantial,” impacting 40 to 50 structures in the town of more than 8,000 people. A little farther east, just two months earlier, the same thing happened in another of Oklahoma’s oil field towns [Oklahoma Gazette].

Did Fallin have bad interview with Trump? Governor says she was told that’s ‘not true’: Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday responded to media reports that her interview with President-elect Donald Trump did not go well. “I had a really nice phone call this weekend with Vice President-elect Mike Pence,” Fallin said. “He said, ‘Mary, I saw the stories and I just wanted to tell you it is absolutely not true.’ He said, ‘You are highly respected, highly regarded. That is why we asked you to come up and visit with us.’ ” [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“If nothing is done to address the systemic drivers of jail overcrowding described in this report, any new facility, regardless of its size, will experience the same problems as the current facility.”

– A finding in a report on overcrowding at the Oklahoma City jail by the Vera Institute and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Criminal Justice Reform Task Force (Source). The full report can be found here

Number of the Day


Number of fatal occupational injuries in Oklahoma in 2014

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What Ben Carson gets wrong about segregation in America: Ben Carson, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has criticized federal efforts to desegregate America’s neighborhoods as “social engineering.” In an op-ed last year, the retired neurosurgeon — who has no experience in urban development — compared the government’s attempts to integrate communities to the “failed social experiment” of mandated school busing. But one such experiment that moved low-income families into wealthier neighborhoods resulted in much better lives for their children [Wonkblog / Washington Post].

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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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