In The Know: Thousands arrested every year for failure to pay court costs

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

Tomorrow is the deadline to register for OK Policy’s Fall Policy Boot Camp: FallPol is an intensive, one-day educational training on key issues affecting our state. The training is intended primarily for emerging professionals working for non-profits, advocacy groups, government, and businesses, as well as educators, parents, civic volunteers, and other rising leaders with an interest in Oklahoma issues [OK Policy].

Thousands arrested every year for failure to pay court costs: While sitting in an interview room at the Tulsa Jail, 34-year-old Adrienne DeShazer sobs when talking about how the debt of court fines put her behind bars and away from her children. About 28 percent of the nearly 23,000 people booked into the Tulsa Jail last year were arrested on court debt-related complaints [Tulsa World]. 

Oklahoma ranks low in mental-health funding: Oklahoma continues to spend little on mental health, despite the state having the second-highest rate of adults with serious mental illness in the nation. The state spends $56.22 per capita on mental health, making Oklahoma one of the lowest in the U.S. in mental health funding, according to a federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-funded report released Thursday [NewsOK]. Presently, 600 people are on a waiting list for treatment beds at state-funded substance abuse treatment facilities [Jaclyn Cosgrove].

Three commutation requests headed to Gov. Fallin: Gov. Mary Fallin will consider reducing the sentences of three drug offenders who were recommended for commutation last week by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. Commutation, a rare form of clemency that reduces an offender’s sentence, hasn’t been granted in Oklahoma since August 2012 [NewsOK].

Poll shows strong support for reform of civil asset forfeiture: Nearly 70 percent of Oklahoma likely voters support legislation that would allow law enforcement to keep confiscated property only when there is a criminal conviction, according a poll released Thursday. The poll bolsters efforts by Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, to reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws, something that has been opposed by prosecutors and some law enforcement [Tulsa World].

Punish uninsured drivers or help them get insurance?: Most of the efforts in the past have been toward holding people accountable who fail to buy auto insurance. But these share a weakness in that they do not address the issue of people who would like to buy insurance but cannot because they are either ineligible or they are too poor, which unfortunately is a reality for many in our state [OK Policy].

Penny tax for education not a new thought: Penny sales taxes earmarked for education, similar to a proposal unveiled in Oklahoma Thursday, are nothing new and have seen mixed results across the nation. States including Arizona, Idaho, Florida and Iowa have implemented sales tax increases similar to the one proposed by University of Oklahoma President David Boren [Oklahoma Watch].

Municipal League targets 150 sales tax exemptions: With more than 30 state legislators preparing for their first session, OML Executive Director Carolyn Stager said, her organization will focus on educating lawmakers about the financial plight of Oklahoma’s cities. The league also may propose eliminating several existing sales tax exemptions, she told a Tulsa City Hall press audience Thursday. Ponca City Mayor Homer Nicholson said 150 exemptions established by lawmakers over the last few years need to be reviewed, sunset and terminated [Journal Record].

Advocates seek night inspections in Oklahoma nursing homes: At least one-fourth of all state nursing home inspections should be conducted on evening, late-night shifts, weekends and holidays, the state Silver Haired Legislature recommends. Also, nursing homes should have more staff working on overnight shifts of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. [NewsOK].

Oklahoma tribes detail federal government’s $186 million lawsuit settlement: The federal government has agreed to pay the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations $186 million to resolve a tribal trust land mismanagement controversy that has been brewing for more than 100 years. Choctaw Chief Gary Batton said he looks forward to the Choctaw Nation using some of the proceeds to improve education [NewsOK].

DHS foster child deported within months of aging out of system: Foster mother Tylisha Oliver drove pregnant, 18-year-old Gabriella Portillo to a meeting asked by her foster daughter’s parole officer. She had a feeling something wasn’t right because it was an unusual request. “When we got there, we were surrounded by seven armed federal agents, and then they had handcuffs on her,” Oliver recalls [Tulsa World].

Here’s how a tweet saved the city of Tulsa $130,000: Mandy Winton was sitting in a League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa board meeting Monday night when she saw something she didn’t like. The city of Tulsa was planning a citywide election Nov. 10 on two minor changes to the city charter. That’s it. “It seemed like such a waste,” she said. “It bothered me a lot” [The Frontier].

Quote of the Day

“When you step back and look at the big picture, it’s a horrendous picture, and it has got to change. It’s all hands on deck, I mean from the governor to our Legislature. These people and these families are in utter despair. It’s terrible economic practice, and we have got to have the leadership from our elected officials who need to say in effect — no more.”

-Mike Brose, executive director of Mental Health Association Oklahoma, speaking about how Oklahoma is near the bottom in the nation for mental health funding, despite having the second-highest rate of adults with serious mental illness in the nation (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s per capita spending on mental health treatment, lower than all but five states.

Source: U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The case against equality of opportunity: We shouldn’t want a better underclass. We should want no underclass, a world in which there might be some inequality but deep poverty is a thing of the past. A decent society shouldn’t try to build a better aristocracy. It should try to achieve a reasonable and rising standard of living for all [Vox].

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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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