In The Know: Oklahoma Correctional Officer Turnover Rate Nearing 40 Percent

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

Oklahoma Correctional Officer Turnover Rate Nearing 40 Percent: Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections says one of its biggest challenges is recruiting and retaining employees. During an interim study Wednesday, Prison Director Joe Allbaugh told lawmakers turnover for the agency is roughly 28 percent. Correctional officers in particular, Allbaugh said, are even harder to retain. Turnover for those positions is approaching 40 percent [KGOU]. The effects of budget cuts on Oklahoma prisons are hidden but dangerous [OK Policy].

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education hope to avoid another big funding cut: Oklahoma can expect a “flat year at best, which is going to make for another difficult budget session,” Sen. Mike Schulz, R-Altus, told higher education officials Wednesday. Schulz, the Senate’s president pro tem designate, spoke about the funding outlook for the next fiscal year at the request of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Higher education officials are concerned after their budget was cut 16 percent last session [NewsOK]. The link between education levels and state prosperity is clear, which is one reason why this year’s deep education cuts were so troubling [OK Policy].

Workers comp commissioner defies Gov. Fallin’s demand for resignation: A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin said she and one of her chief advisors did nothing improper in demanding the resignation of Workers Compensation Commission Chairman Robert Gilliland, despite Gilliland’s claim their actions were “inappropriate and illegal.” Gilliland, in a Sept. 1 letter to Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger that the World obtained through an Open Records Act request, says Doerflinger asked Gilliland to resign on Aug. 29 because of “dissatisfaction with a decision the Commission made in a case. I asked if there were any other reasons and you stated you know of no other reasons for the request to resign.” [Tulsa World]

“My only option is bankruptcy,” Lawmakers hoping for change after Oklahoma ranks at the top of list for uninsured motorists, most expensive rates: It may not seem fair, but your credit score has more of an impact on your car insurance rate than your driving record. Oklahoma ranks at the top of the list for uninsured motorists as well as most expensive rates, but lawmakers are hoping to change that. He’s only 22, but Matt Kaihlanen is dealing with much more than what meets the eye. It is obvious he’s been through some trauma [KFOR].

Private school tax subsidy blurs the line between gift and money laundering (Guest post: Carl Davis): When is a charitable contribution not a “donation” at all? If a taxpayer manages to turn a profit on the deal, has anything altruistic actually occurred? The clear answer is no. But a new report from my organization, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, reveals that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not always see it that way, at least with regard to certain state-subsidized “gifts” that Oklahomans are making to private K-12 scholarship funds [OK Policy].

Experts Say OK Prison Reform Begins With Mental Health Reform: You’ll be hearing a lot about criminal justice reform in the coming months. It’s on the November ballot; it’s on the minds of lawmakers; and it’s on the radar of mental health professionals. They say you can’t fix prison overcrowding without first fixing the mental health system. These days policing means more than patrolling. It also means being a mental health professional and addiction counselor [News9]. 

Watch-Out Forum Video: Questions of Justice: The debate was intense at an Oklahoma Watch-Out forum on Tuesday about State Questions 780 and 781, which would make significant changes to Oklahoma’s criminal justice system in an effort to lower the state’s incarceration rates. The forum featured Kris Steele, former House speaker and executive director of The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM), and Greg Mashburn, district attorney representing Cleveland, Garvin and McClain counties [Oklahoma Watch]. OK Policy’s fact sheets on SQ780 and 781 are available here.

Prosperity Policy: Red herrings: Vote Yes on State Question 777 or else more Oklahoma children and seniors will go hungry? That’s the highly misleading message that supporters of the so-called Right to Farm amendment are sending Oklahoma voters. If approved in November, SQ 777 would entrench in the state constitution the right to engage in far-reaching agricultural practices. Oklahoma would not be allowed to make any new laws regulating farming or ranching practices unless they could be shown to meet a legal standard known as compelling state interest [David Blatt / Journal Record]. OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQ777 is available here.

Black and blue: In April of 1999, the morning after my mom died of breast- to-bone cancer, her oncologist called the house. “Sorry for your loss,” he said, “but you want to hear some truly awful news?” “I don’t understand.” “A woman came into my office today with colon cancer.” “What? I—” “Her cancer is worse than your mom’s. And this woman has so much to live for. A real tragedy.” [Barry Friedman / Tulsa Voice]

Tulsa Spent $216K On Police Overtime After Terence Crutcher Shooting: The City of Tulsa spent more than $216,000 on overtime for Tulsa Police in the days following the shooting death of Terence Crutcher. Terence Crutcher died after being shot by Officer Betty Shelby on the evening of September 16, 2016. According to records obtained on October 11 by a News On 6 Open Records request, the Tulsa Police Department accrued a total of $216,110.44 in overtime costs from September 19 to September 28, 2016 [NewsOn6].

City revenues decline around the state: City Hall is preparing for midyear budget cuts in response to continuing low sales tax revenues, officials said. For the fiscal year to date, the city’s tax revenue is down 4 percent over the same time last year, Finance Director Craig Freeman said. That’s bad enough, but City Hall was expecting at least a little growth of 1.6 percent. That difference means the city needs to cut expenditures by about $10 million. “With the change we’ve seen so far, we felt that we wanted to get ahead of this rather than wait too late in the game to make an adjustment,” he said [Journal Record].

State Supt. Joy Hofmeister focuses on emergency certifications, teacher pay and student success: Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister kicked off her town hall forums she will host around the state in Duncan on Tuesday night in an effort to create discussions within the public community about education in Oklahoma. The forum drew a large crowd to Duncan High School and saw several retired and current teachers, administrators and concerned community members attend the event. The open discussion brought up issues and worries the Duncan community had such as issues with class size, creativity in the classroom, student accountability, teacher pay and the budget shortfall among other issues [The Duncan Banner].

Iron Gate food pantry details plans for new downtown facility, seeks zoning approval: Iron Gate soup kitchen and food pantry is poised to relocate within downtown and boost its space threefold, but the pending move must first be approved by the City of Tulsa Board of Adjustment. Iron Gate officials on Wednesday afternoon offered more concrete details of their plan to shift operations only a couple of blocks “as the crow flies” from its current location of nearly 40 years at Fifth Street and Cincinnati Avenue. The specs lay out a 20,000-square-foot facility that will house food storage and kitchen space, a dining hall, and administrative offices. An enclosed courtyard also is part of the plan [Tulsa World].

Local legislative candidates participate in forum: Four local candidates for the Oklahoma Legislature had an opportunity to address voters during a political forum Tuesday on the Indian Capital Technology Center. Sponsored by the Parents Legislative Action Committee and Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, the forum included State House District 4 candidates Bob Ed Culver, Republican, and Matt Meredith, Democrat; and State Senate District 9 candidates Jack Reavis, Democrat, and Dewayne Pemberton, Republican. Moderators Jerry Cook and Jim Wilson read a series of 10 questions, each of which was delivered to the candidates prior to the forum [McAlester News-Capital].

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority To Test All-Electronic Toll In Jenks: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will test an all-electronic tolling system in Jenks beginning in late January. Plate Pay will allow drivers on the Creek Turnpike to take the exit at the Peoria, Elm interchange without stopping to pay a toll. Instead, technology will scan the vehicle’s tag, and send a bill to the driver, making things faster and safer [NewsOn6].

Could the presidential election be rigged? A state official explains why he doesn’t think it could happen: Rigging presidential elections — or just about any election — is a lot harder than some people apparently believe. To some extent, of course, that depends on the definition of “rigging.” But just about everyone who knows anything about U.S. elections says the sort of systematic fraud and manipulation suggested by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is, for all practical purposes, impossible [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“We’ve got to make sure our officers are safe. We’ve got to make sure they have appropriate training for these programs, and we’ve got to make sure that our system has somewhere to divert people for treatment so they can be well and go back to work and raise their own children.”

– Traci Cook of NAMI Oklahoma on SQ780 and SQ781, which would reclassify some drug crimes and reinvest the savings into treatment programs (Source). Oklahoma’s fact sheet on SQ780 and SQ781 is available here.

Number of the Day


Number of male students without disabilities in Oklahoma who were subject to corporal punishment in 2011-2012, compared to 1,735 female students.

Source: Civil Rights Data Collection

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Geography Affects Low-Income Americans: In the United States, geography affects everything from economic mobility to lifespan. In a paper published earlier this year, the economist Raj Chetty and a number of co-authors explored the life expectancies of the rich and poor. They found not only a staggering rich-poor life expectancy gap, but also that the life expectancies of the poor vary greatly depending on location, with low-income people in certain cities living approximately five years longer than those in other cities. The researchers determined that living in a wealthy city with a well-educated population, a higher proportion of immigrants, and larger government expenditures produced the longest life expectancies for low-income people. In other words, the local social safety net matters [Pacific Standard].

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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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