The Weekly Wonk: Of rights and privileges; the surprisingly weak link between incarceration and crime; & more

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’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 from OK Policy

This week, Executive Director David Blatt described his own experience with white privilege and law enforcement. On the OK Policy Blog, Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler detailed the surprisingly weak link between incarceration and crime. Blatt shared that Oklahoma voters have a history of affirming most state questions.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis argued restrictive alcohol laws aren’t a substitute for adequately funding addiction treatment. A new post on the Together Oklahoma Blog detailed the organization’s next steps

OK Policy in the News

Policy Analyst and Oklahoma Assets Network coordinator DeVon Douglass spoke to CNN Money about the history of Tulsa’s racial wealth gap. The Ada News included OK Policy in a roundup of organizations supporting State Questions tied to criminal justice reform. A column in the OU Daily critiquing SQ779, the proposed penny sales tax for education, cited OK Policy data

Upcoming Opportunities

Oklahoma 2016 State Questions and Elections

Oklahoma’s statewide general election is Tuesday, November 8th! You can learn more about voting logistics here with our 2016 Oklahoma Election Guide. In addition, you can learn more about the seven state questions that will be on the ballot with our 2016 Oklahoma State Question Guide.

Weekly What’s That

Voter ID Requirements

In 2010, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 746, which established new voter identification requirements. The state question requires voters to present a valid government-issued document that includes their name and picture or a voter identification card issued by their county election board. A person who cannot or does not provide one of those forms of identification may sign a sworn statement and cast a provisional ballot. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Is that ideal? I don’t think it’s ideal. I think it’s long overdue. And it is with regret that we have not been able to do that sooner.”

– State Superintendent of Schools Joy Hofmeister, on State Question 779, the proposed penny sales tax increase to be used in part to give teachers a raise (Source). Our statement on SQ779 is available here. You can learn more about State Questions on the ballot in  November here.

Editorial of the Week

Mark Holden, NewsOK

 For the many Oklahomans concerned that outdated criminal justice laws are endangering public safety and ruining people’s lives, it’s heartening that Congress has indicated that it hopes to take up the issue during the coming weeks. But it remains unclear whether any legislation will make it to the president’s desk. That’s why the roughly 67,000 employers that call Oklahoma home should consider voluntarily taking action themselves. Businesses have a powerful role to play in giving individuals with criminal records a second chance. The easiest step they can take is to “ban the box.”

Numbers of the Day

  • $18,520 – Annual median wage for Oklahoma child care workers, 2014
  • 6.76 – Rate of firearm deaths in Oklahoma’s Hispanic community, per 100,000. The national average is 5.46
  • 639 – Number of Oklahoma public school students subjected to physical restraint 2011-2012. 506 of these students were male
  • 19,583 – Estimated number of low-income, uninsured Oklahoma adults with a serious mental illness in 2013
  • 1,300 – Number of same-sex couples in Oklahoma who are raising children

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • America’s bail system punishes poor people — even if they’re innocent of any crime [Vox]
  • In States That Didn’t Expand Medicaid, Rural Hospitals Hit Harder [Governing]
  • Why So Many Poor Americans Don’t Get Help Paying For Housing [FiveThirtyEight]
  • The human toll of America’s public defender crisis [The Guardian]
  • Skipping Meals, Joining Gangs: How Teens Cope Without Enough Food At Home [NPR]


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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