In The Know: Number of jailed Oklahomans grew 14 times faster than adult population from 1980 to 2013

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.

Today In The News

Number of jailed Oklahomans grew 14 times faster than adult population from 1980 to 2013: The number of Oklahomans behind bars grew 14 times faster than the state’s adult population from 1980 to 2013, according to a report released Thursday by the Obama administration. Issued in support of federal sentencing reform legislation and an initiative to shift spending from prisons and jails to education, the report says Oklahoma’s per capita state and local outlays for corrections grew almost five times more than per-pupil common education expenditures. Nationally, incarceration spending grew 2.5 times faster than education [Tulsa World]. The report is available here. Oklahoma has the second highest incarceration rate in the country, up from fourth highest in 2012, with approximately 1,310 out of every 100,000 of our citizens incarcerated in 2014 [OK Policy].

Battling Heat, Homeless Also Face Freeze of State’s Wait List for Housing Aid: Even as the heat takes a toll on Oklahoma’s homeless population, another potential hardship has developed related to efforts to get the homeless off the streets. The Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency has decided to join the Oklahoma City Housing Authority in closing its waiting list for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, more commonly known as Section 8. The federally funded service provides rental subsidies for homeless and low-income families, and about 10,250 Oklahoma families receive the assistance [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahoma Pre-K Often Praised, But Early Educators No Better Off: A comprehensive look at working conditions for early childhood care workers and educators finds Oklahoma is slipping. Marcy Whitebrook led the study at the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. She said Oklahoma was making the best progress among 17 states addressing early educators’ low wages. In 2015 dollars, Oklahoma preschool teacher wages rose 23 percent from 2010 to 2015. Child care worker wages dropped 4 percent [KWGS]. The study is available here.

Demanding political courage and statesmanship: The state’s new budget year began July 1 amid a smidgen of good news: a $100 million-plus surplus from the fiscal year that ended June 30 that can be distributed to financially beleaguered state agencies. Then, this week, state Treasurer Ken Miller added to the cautious optimism by reporting oil and gas tax revenues were up the last two months – a possible sign the latest energy bust has bottomed out. At the risk of being viewed as the proverbial skunk at a garden party, I wouldn’t start chilling the champagne just yet [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Board of Corrections makes interim DOC director’s job permanent: The Oklahoma Board of Corrections voted unanimously on Thursday to appoint the state corrections system’s interim director to permanently lead the agency, effective immediately. Joe M. Allbaugh had been appointed interim director in January by the board, replacing former Director Robert Patton, who resigned in December to take a deputy warden position at an Arizona private prison [Tulsa World].

Street School raises over $100,000 in three weeks to make up for state cuts in educational aid: In only three weeks, Street School saw more than $100,000 pour in after a fundraiser was started to help balance out the decrease in educational aid currently facing all Oklahoma public schools. Street School, a nonprofit alternative high school located in South Tulsa, was facing a shortfall of nearly $107,000 before the fundraiser began and administrators created the Double Impact Challenge campaign to initiate assistance from local businesses and community leaders [KJRH].

Stepping in: Nonprofits help schools cover gaps: Oklahoma City Public Schools needs to fill in programs after budget cuts squeezed out art and science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes. “What we do is sit down and find out what the need is in the community,” said Programming Coordinator Anika Wilson. “The budget is more of an outline to determine what we can do.” Wilson said because the overall budget has not been determined, it’s difficult to plan what schools can afford. Nonprofits are helpful in these situations, she said [Journal Record].

Oklahoma DHS Reaches Goal For Foster Family Recruitment: Governor Mary Fallin announced that her Oklahoma Fosters initiative has achieved its goal of recruiting more than 1,000 new foster families. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services also reports that the number of children in state custody has dropped below 10,000 for the first time in three years, according to a news release. It’s the first time DHS has reached its foster care recruitment goal since the Pinnacle Plan was launched in 2012 to reform the state’s foster care system [News9].

Court restores suit against Oklahoma agency in girl’s death: An appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit that says the Oklahoma Department of Human Services is responsible for the death of a 5-year-old girl who was killed by her father. The wrongful-death lawsuit was filed by the maternal grandparents of Serenity Deal, who was beaten to death in 2011, according to The Oklahoman ( ). The lawsuit claims her death was due to negligence by the state. Sean Brooks is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree murder [Sacramento Bee].

Q&A: Mike Fogarty predicts Oklahoma will expand health coverage by next year: For 13 years, Mike Fogarty served as CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. During that time and since his retirement in 2013, the Guthrie native has witnessed many changes within Oklahoma’s health care landscape. Below, Fogarty divulges his insights into the Affordable Care Act’s far-reaching effects on health care policy in Oklahoma, his take on the recently proposed “Medicaid rebalancing” strategy, and the difference between true leadership and political leadership [NonDoc]. This spring, agency leaders developed a plan to expand coverage through Insure Oklahoma [OK Policy].

Presidential campaign contributions: Oklahoma pockets favor Clinton: Oklahomans voted for Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz in the primaries. However, neither of the Sooner State’s top picks made it as front runners in this year’s presidential election. Instead, voters must decide to support either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. And financially, the traditionally red state is showing a lot of support for the Democratic nominee. When it comes to campaign financing, Oklahoma has raised more money for Clinton than Trump, a lot more [NewsOK].

Tapping conservation: OKC gains water customers, but lowers total use: Oklahoma City residents’ water usage continues to decline even as the city’s population grows, city officials said. The latest consumption survey found a 3.4-percent reduction in average residential water use compared with last year, continuing a modest downward trend. Oklahoma City’s total number of water utility accounts increased from 177,192 to 179,405 since 2013, while the total volume of water used by those accounts declined from 832.7 million gallons to 814.8 million [Journal Record].

Will Rogers museums now part of Oklahoma Historical Society: Things have been a little tight for the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Birthplace Museum in recent years. Attendance has been fine, officials say, but diminishing state support left the shrine to Oklahoma’s favorite son struggling. “Since 2008, we’ve had a nearly 40 percent budget reduction,” said Executive Director Tad Jones [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“The question: How can essential state services meet the demands of a growing population when budgets are declining and costs are rising? The answer: It’s not possible.”

– Arnold Hamilton, editor of The Oklahoma Observer, in his Journal Record column (Source)

Number of the Day


Total number of children who participated in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) in Oklahoma in 2015.

Source: Oklahoma Department of Human Services

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The interesting thing that happened when Kansas cut taxes and California hiked them: In 2012, voters in California approved a measure to raise taxes on millionaires, bringing their top state income tax rate to 13.3 percent, the highest in the nation. Conservative economists predicted calamity, or at least a big slowdown in growth. Also that year, the governor of Kansas signed a series of changes to the state’s tax code, including reducing income and sales tax rates. Conservative economists predicted a boom. Neither of those predictions came true. Not right away — California grew just fine in the year the tax hikes took effect — and especially not in the medium term, as new economic data showed this week. Now, correlation does not, as they say, equal causation, and two examples are but a small sample. But the divergent experiences of California and Kansas run counter to a popular view, particularly among conservative economists, that tax cuts tend to supercharge growth and tax increases chill it [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.

One thought on “In The Know: Number of jailed Oklahomans grew 14 times faster than adult population from 1980 to 2013

  1. Note again that OK’s declines in crime rates over that period dropped much less than nationally and even further less than states that implemented the reforms that OK explicitly rejected in the 1990s, like NC. Some offenses, like sexual assault, have actually risen in some years in this period. Incarcerating people who don’t need to be is proven to be one of the least effective public safety approaches, but it does keep in power and in the press the people who benefit from the lesser public safety and greater victimization, the DAs and law enforcement who get to bellow their archangel-ism, the media who get viewers and readers, private corporations who make money, and policymakers who get contributions and inaugurations. The average Oklahoman gets victimized when s/he could have been safe. Oh, yes, and one of the enablers of it all gets appointed to the DOC director position full-time. Win-win for everybody.

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