The Weekly Wonk: Incarcerated youth; meet Sabine Brown; & more

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This week’s edition of The Weekly Wonk was published with contributions from Open Justice Oklahoma Intern Thomas Gao.

This Week from OK Policy

This week, we wrapped up our analysis of Open Justice Oklahoma’s (OJO) recent juvenile justice report by exploring how incarceration can disrupt youths’ lives. OJO Data Analyst Harvey drew on her experience working with youth in detention centers to discuss the challenges they face while incarcerated and afterward. You can find more blog posts on OJO’s juvenile justice report here.

In his weekly Journal Record column, former Executive Director David Blatt discussed a lawsuit that threatens to  invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act, putting health care at risk for hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans with pre-existing medical conditions. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update called on our law enforcement officials to stop complaining about SQ 780 and  make it work for the people it was designed to help.

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we are featuring an updated spotlight on Sabine Brown, who now serves as our Outreach and Legislative Director. You can meet more members of our staff here.

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Carly Putnam spoke to Public Radio Tulsa about Tulsa’s rank as as the ninth-highest uninsured rate among large U.S. Cities.

Upcoming Opportunities

Today in Oklahoma City: Join Together Oklahoma advocates for a chapter meeting at Nappy Roots Book Store today, Sunday October 13 at 5:30 pm to discuss plans leading into the 2020 legislative session! Click here for more information and to RSVP.

David Blatt Farewell Events and Legacy Fund: We are just two weeks away from the events celebrating our outgoing director David Blatt! Please join us  in Oklahoma City on Monday, October 28th from 5-7 pm and in Tulsa on Tuesday, October 29th from 4:30 – 6:30 pm. Both events are free and open to everyone. For more information and to RSVP, go to To honor David’s work at OK Policy and ensure that it will continue in the years ahead, we invite you to contribute to the David Blatt Legacy Fund.

Weekly What’s That

SQ 780 and SQ 781, what’s that?

SQ 780 and SQ 781 were ballot initiatives approved by Oklahoma voters in 2016. SQ 780 reclassified simple drug possession and some minor property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. SQ 781 directed the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to calculate the savings to the state of these changes and to deposit that amount into a fund used by county governments to provide substance abuse and mental health services. 

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“SQ 780 retroactivity is going to be life-changing for tens of thousands of Oklahomans, their families and communities. Unfortunately for me and many others who are getting our lives back together, the expungement fee (minimum of $1,000) is just too high.”

– Kayla Jeffries, who recently received commutation  and was released from prison [NonDoc].

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World: “Survey by parent group helps define top 10 schools”

Parents deserve a say on what would propel Oklahoma schools into the nation’s top ranks.

The Oklahoma Parent Legislative Committee started distributing an online survey last week asking parents to rank measures that determine quality schools…

Parents see first-hand the remaining consequences schools suffered from being underfunded. The survey is a good way to voice an opinion about the state’s education priorities and keep the pressure on for a top 10 achievement.  [Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 20% – Share of Oklahomans over age 65 with jobs in 2018 – one percentage point higher than the national average.
  • $35,631,720 – Revenue generated by medical marijuana application fees in the first year of legalization
  • 25% – Percentage of LGBTQ+ Oklahomans who are uninsured, compared to 16% of non-LGBTQ+ Oklahomans
  • 66,821 – The projected number of new housing units Oklahoma will need by 2020
  • 36% – Percentage of LGBTQ+ Oklahomans who are food insecure, compared to 19% of non-LGBTQ+ Oklahomans

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Study dispels stereotypes of rural LGBTQ people of color [NBC]
  • Next Arena for Criminal Justice Reform: A roof over their heads [New York Times]
  • Flagships fail on financial equity [Inside Higher Ed]
  • Job training can change lives. See how San Antonio does it [New York Times]
  • Health insurance that doesn’t cover the bills has flooded the market under Trump [Bloomberg]


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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