The Weekly Wonk: Reinvesting in justice-involved youth; protect mothers and babies by expanding Medicaid; & 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 took another dive into the newest report by Open Justice Oklahoma (OJO) which details the state’s massive, decades-long declines in juvenile crime and arrests. OJO Data Analyst Ashley Harvey recommended Oklahoma take advantage of declining youth incarceration by reinvesting in services for justice-involved youth.

Oklahoma ranked 47th for its infant mortality, and 34th for its maternal mortality last year. Oklahoma Mental Health Policy Fellow Maggie den Harder explained how expanding Medicaid could ensure better outcomes for mothers and babies across the state.

On Constitution Day, we celebrated by highlighting one of the most important duties contained in the Constitution: the Census. Over 230 years ago, the authors of the American constitution understood the importance of the Census. Today, a lot rides on a full and accurate Census count.

In his weekly Journal Record column, outgoing director David Blatt discussed a bright spot in our justice system: the massive decline in juvenile crime, arrests, and incarceration detailed in the latest OJO report. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update examined the case of a mother who had been sentenced to 12-years in prison over a decade ago for selling $31 worth of marijuana and who was recently incarcerated again for being unable to pay court costs.

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we are featuring Jacobi Crowley, Southwest Oklahoma Field Organizer. You can meet more members of our staff here.

OK Policy in the News

Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade spoke to CNHI about the Pardon and Parole Board’s recent decision to explain denials. Human Rights Watch cited OK Policy data in a recent report about the Tulsa Police Department and the enforcement of court debt.

Upcoming Opportunities

Film Screening in Lawton, Oklahoma with Together OK: Join advocates in Lawton for a film screening and conversation on RACE: The Power of an Illusion. The event will take place Monday, September 30 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in Lawton. Click here for more details.

David Blatt Farewell Events and Legacy Fund: To celebrate outgoing director David Blatt, OK Policy is hosting events in Oklahoma City on Monday, October 28th, 2019 and in Tulsa on Tuesday, October 29th, 2019. The events are free and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP, go to

Weekly What’s That

Medication-Assisted Treatment, what’s that?

Medication-assisted treatment, commonly called MAT, combines behavioral therapy and medication to treat opioid use disorder (OUD), alcohol use disorder (AUD), or smoking. Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“The overarching theme is the human spirit. This is a specific story of the dignity of people who turned trials and tribulations and tragedy into triumph.”

– Hannibal Johnson, lead curator for the Race Massacre Centennial Commission, on the plans for the new Greenwood History Center in Tulsa [Tulsa World].

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World editorial: Another bad statistic shows Oklahoma is making itself poorer and sicker

Every Oklahoman needs a financially solvent hospital system, a healthy workforce and emergency rooms that aren’t choked with indigent people seeking care from the provider of last choice. Insured Oklahomans should wake up to the fact that other people’s unpaid hospital bills mean higher prices for their own hospital care and, therefore, higher insurance premiums [Tulsa World].

Numbers of the Day

  • 15% – Share of federal tax cuts from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that go to Americans with the bottom 60 percent of incomes.
  • 36.5% – Share of Oklahoma state revenue from the personal income tax, just below the national average of 38.1 percent.
  • $387.8 million – The estimated annual cost of untreated mental illness for the city of Tulsa in 2018.
  • 58.8% – The percentage of time longer than the national average that Oklahomans spent in prison for commercial drug crimes.
  • $8.6 billion – Additional funding which would be available to Oklahoma over the next decade to fund services if the state expanded Medicaid

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • With a focus on food sovereignty, rural Appalachian Ohio is rebounding [Civil Eats]
  • Among Hurdles For Those With Opioid Addictions: Getting The Drug To Treat It [Kaiser Health News]
  • What Juvenile Justice Needs: Care, Not Cages [Governing]
  • Game over: Middle-class and poor kids are ditching youth sports [CBS News]
  • Report: Costs in most states exceed subsidies for child care [AP News]


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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