In The Know: Oklahoma woman awarded $6.5 million in lawsuit against Harmon County sheriff

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 woman awarded $6.5 million in lawsuit against Harmon County sheriff: A federal jury has awarded a former Hollis woman $6.5 million after finding the Harmon County sheriff failed in his duties to prevent her from being sexually assaulted while jailed. In September 2014, Tiffany Ann Glover filed a civil rights lawsuit in Oklahoma City federal court against Sheriff Joe Johnson and others. Glover, now 32, claimed the sheriff acted with deliberate indifference when he failed to protect her from being raped by Jayson Vest, Hollis’ assistant police chief at the time of the assault, court documents show. Jurors reached a verdict Thursday after a four-day trial [NewsOK].

City of OKC departments prepare to make cuts amidst sales tax decline: Departments within the city of Oklahoma City are facing midyear budget cuts in the wake of a decline in sales tax collections for the first three months of this fiscal year. City officials said with the price of oil down, fewer people are spending their money in Oklahoma City, and now the sales tax revenue collections are down compared to this time last year. “We’re down about 4.5 percent compared to last year,” said Doug Dowler, budget director of the city of Oklahoma City [KOCO].

The surprisingly weak link between incarceration and crime: The logic of the “tough on crime” movement holds that punishing people harshly for their offenses — whether violent or nonviolent — is a critical tool to prevent crime. That attitude was the driving force behind criminal justice policy in Oklahoma and across the country for years, and states sent more and more people to prison each year as a result. Although crime has been decreasing steadily since its peak in the early 1990s, the incarceration rate only began dropping slowly in the last 8 years or so [OK Policy].

Oklahoma ballot measures aim to reduce prison population: The penalty for simple drug possession would be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor in Oklahoma under a state question on the Nov. 8 ballot. The goal is to reduce the state’s huge prison population, saving money that would be invested in mental health and drug abuse treatment programs under a separate ballot measure. Some prosecutors say this is all a step too far. They contend some powerful drugs warrant more than a misdemeanor [NewsOK]. Learn more about the 2016 State Questions here.

Tulsans explore how racism affects health: A forum on how racism affects health was planned well before the high-profile shooting death of an unarmed black man by a Tulsa police officer. It could not have been better timed. A group of 150 people — social workers, public health workers, educators, faith leaders, nonprofit workers and residents — gathered for the forum Monday at the Tulsa Health Department’s North Regional Health and Wellness Center [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World].

One of the Most Critical Issues Facing our State: Oklahoma boasts a lot of wonderful things to be proud of. We are known for our wonderful country music with many Grammy and CMA award winners. We are known for our amazing NBA team. We are Oklahoma strong when tragedy strikes during tornado season. And…we are No. 2 in mental illness and 49th in funding. Ouch. That is a sad commentary for such a great state known for its big heart. With more than 900,000 Oklahomans suffering with a brain disorder, treating mental illness is the most critical issue facing our state. Why? Because the immense suffering of untreated brain disorders not only affects those who suffer, they affect families, the community and the state [Cathy Costello and David Slane / CapitolBeatOK]. 

Study focuses on healthcare outcomes for OK rural communities: State Rep. Sean Roberts hosted an interim study on improving healthcare outcomes before the Oklahoma House of Representatives Public Health Committee to examine possible strategies and incentives to improve outcomes and access to healthcare, particularly in rural Oklahoma. “Those who live in rural areas in our state often have limited access to healthcare services or physicians,” said Roberts, R-Hominy. “I requested this study to see what the Legislature can do to help in this area.” [KSWO] Accepting federal funds for Medicaid is critical for rural hospitals [OK Policy].

Oklahoma City school district students get another chance at graduation: Oklahoma City Public Schools is looking for former students who completed high school but didn’t receive a diploma because they didn’t take or pass End of Instruction exams. Oklahoma’s five-year-old requirement for high school students to pass at least four of seven exams in order to earn a diploma was discontinued earlier this year under House Bill 3218. Since then, the district has identified 58 students from the graduating class of 2015-16 and 38 more potential graduates from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 graduating classes who now qualify for a diploma [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Capitol renovation will drive operational changes: The Capitol renovation project in Oklahoma City is shifting into high gear with major infrastructure work taking place in the basement at the same time as scaffolding is being installed outside for work on the exterior. The state Office of Management and Enterprise Services, noting the Capitol is “now a full-time construction zone,” announced Monday a set of building changes to facilitate construction and ensure safety [NewsOK].

State Question 779 is unsatisfactory solution to Oklahoma’s education budget crisis: I can’t believe I am contemplating voting “no” on something that would give teachers a pay raise. At times I am fully against State Question 779, but at other times I waffle, left wondering about how its failure will affect our teachers and students in the immediate future. When I think about voting “yes,” it is only because I am loath to deny teachers a deserved pay raise, but it will feel like a Faustian bargain [Paula Schonauer / OU Daily].

Oklahoma History Center announces new American Indian Nations of Oklahoma trunk: The Education Department of the Oklahoma History Center presents its newest traveling trunk for teacher checkout: the American Indian Nations of Oklahoma trunk. This hands-on trunk contains flags, artwork and books from 23 different tribes, and information on all 39 federally recognized tribes and tribal towns of Oklahoma. The curriculum guide includes background information on each tribe, as well as several activities that will allow students to connect with American Indian history and culture [Tahlequah Daily Press].

Quote of the Day

“We are known for our amazing NBA team. We are Oklahoma strong when tragedy strikes during tornado season. And…we are No. 2 in mental illness and 49th in funding. Ouch. That is a sad commentary for such a great state known for its big heart.”

-Cathy Costello, mental health advocate and wife of the late Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello (Source)

Number of the Day


Rate of firearm deaths in Oklahoma’s Hispanic community, per 100,000. The national average is 5.46.

Source: Violence Policy Center

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

In States That Didn’t Expand Medicaid, Rural Hospitals Hit Harder: It isn’t news that in rural parts of the country, people have a harder time accessing good health care. But new evidence suggests opposition to a key part of the 2010 health overhaul could be adding to the gap. Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs, which analyzes how the states’ decisions on implementing the federal health law’s expansion of Medicaid, a federal-state insurance program for low-income people, may be influencing rural hospitals’ financial stability. Nineteen states opted not to join the expansion [Governing].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.