In The Know: Outgoing Oklahoma corrections director to be deputy warden at Arizona private prison

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

Outgoing Oklahoma Department of Corrections director to become deputy warden at Arizona private prison: Robert Patton will work at the Arizona State Prison-Kingman, a medium- and minimum-security complex that can hold just more than 3,500 male inmates, Pablo Paez, vice president of Corporate Relations for the GEO Group, told the Tulsa World. Patton is the second high-profile figure to announce his separation from the Oklahoma DOC following two controversial executions and a third that, if allowed to proceed, would have been in apparent violation of the DOC’s lethal injection protocols [Tulsa World]. A look back at some of the challenges he faced while in office [The Frontier].

Is this the blueprint for ending poverty?: This October, Stanford University’s Dr. David Grusky visited Oklahoma for a talk at the University of Tulsa. Dr. Grusky’s books include Social Stratification, Occupy the Future, The New Gilded Age, The Great Recession, The Inequality Reader, and The Inequality Puzzle. His presentation at TU was titled, “A Blueprint for Ending Poverty… Permanently.” Dr. Grusky also spent some time with OK Policy’s staff discussing how the research on poverty and inequality is inspiring an ambitious new effort to end poverty in California [OK Policy].

Oil industry’s woes continue to drive down Oklahoma’s revenue: Low oil prices and reduced consumer spending continue to shrink state revenue, Treasurer Ken Miller said Monday as he released November’s financial report. For the seventh consecutive month, monthly gross receipts were lower than the same month of the prior year. Revenue for November was $830.8 million, down by more than $15 million, or almost 2 percent, from last year [NewsOK].

Children’s shelter short of funds: The J. Roy Dunning Children’s Shelter began dipping into its reserves this year due to lack of funding. The shelter provides temporary, emergency shelter and foster care to abused, abandoned or neglected children and is the only one in Lawton that will take all children ages newborn to 17 years of age. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services and the United Way annually fund the shelter, but funds from DHS have been flat for 11 years and support from the United Way has been reduced because the organization has not met its campaign goals [The Lawton Constitution].

As social services stand back, mother and baby fall ‘into hell’: Reuters found dozens of situations in which infants were released from hospitals into unsafe homes where family members used heroin, methadone or prescription painkillers, according to records from social workers, coroners and police. Some of the newborns died at the hands of drug-abusing parents, even though hospitals had alerted child protection agencies. One of the most disturbing deaths took place in Oklahoma [Reuters].

New city-county clinic integrates health care, social services: The Oklahoma City-County Health Department’s integrated clinic brings together health care providers, mental health care providers and social services. Agency director Gary Cox said the facility follows the wraparound care model and is the first of its kind in the state. Having an immediate referral resource will be important for many clients, who may not have the ability to travel across town for domestic violence services or for mental health consultations [Journal Record].

Oklahoma teachers address education concerns in video: The staff at Moore Public Schools wants their concerns to be heard. The district released a video of teachers and administrators expressing their worries about education in Oklahoma. The video, titled “Breaking the Silence,” emphasizes three main things that educators at Moore Public Schools want to see change: teacher pay; inequity of the A through F report card system; and teacher evaluations that are based on student test scores [KOSU]. You can watch the video here.

Republican lawmaker pushes for election of Oklahoma Supreme Court: A Republican state representative upset over recent decisions by the Oklahoma Supreme Court wants to amend the state Constitution to change how judges are selected. State Rep. Kevin Calvey on Monday announced plans to introduce a House measure that would allow Oklahomans to vote on whether Supreme Court and appeals court judges should be elected in nonpartisan elections [News9].

Hearing is set to begin on $172M Public Service Co. rate case: Electric bills for residential customers of Public Service Co. of Oklahoma could increase more than 14 percent if regulators approve the utility’s rate case, which has a hearing starting Tuesday at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. PSO wants to recover $172 million from its customers to pay for environmental upgrades and other investments. If approved, the average residential customer using about 1,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would see a bill increase of $14.22 each month [NewsOK].

Another Oklahoma school asked to change Redskins nickname: During a Nov. 12 school board meeting, two women made a presentation to McLoud officials, urging them to take the steps necessary to remove the Redskins moniker from the district’s high school. According to McLoud school board minutes, Sarah Adams-Cornell and Jacqueline Holder spoke for about 15 minutes about why the term Redskins is harmful to American Indians. The issue in McLoud closely resembles what played out at Capitol Hill High School last December [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“In some areas, we had babies positive for marijuana removed from home, and in other places, kids tested positive for methamphetamine and they weren’t removed. Depends on what part of the state you’re in.”

-Lisa Smith, director of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, speaking about wide disparities in the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ response to drug-exposed children (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of professionally active primary care physicians in Oklahoma, about 1 for every 882 Oklahomans.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

New Study Questions the Value of Universal Pre-K. Tell that to working mothers.: Does universal preschool—a policy backed by the president and all of the Democrats jockeying to take his place—have a research problem? Yes—but only if you ignore an entire demographic that would benefit from universal pre-K. The evidence may be mixed on how preschool impacts children, although it likely also depends on the quality of the program and how far out you measure the results (and what you measure). Other studies have found long-term gains. What is not mixed is what universal, affordable preschool offers working parents [Slate].

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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