Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. The reporting project collaborates on occasion with other news outlets. Topics of particular interest include poverty, education, health care, the young and the old, and the disadvantaged.

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Politics and Government
7:46 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

State Wins Affordable Care Act Grant

Governor Mary Fallin at her 2014 State of the State address.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Obama administration announced Tuesday it had chosen Oklahoma to receive a grant of up to $2 million to develop innovative models for delivering health care.

The award is significant because it represents a rare departure from the state’s general reluctance to participate in programs authorized by the Affordable Care Act, sometimes characterized as Obamacare.

Oklahoma is one of 28 states chosen to receive funding in the second round of the State Innovation Models grant program. The grants total $665 million nationwide.

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Oklahoma Watch
7:27 am
Sun December 14, 2014

Oklahoma Corrections Policies Changed To Release More Offenders

The Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington
Oklahoma Watch

Pushing to reduce prison overcrowding, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has quietly changed its policies to give early releases to greater numbers of violent and sex offenders, according to agency documents obtained by Oklahoma Watch.

The department is doing so by relaxing policies that determine which types of inmates can receive early-release credits, when those credits can be given, and how many credits offenders can receive, corrections department records show.

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Oklahoma Watch
2:01 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Roland Clinic Draws Scrutiny From Oklahoma Drug Enforcers

The Wellness Clinic in Roland
Anny Sivilay Sequoah County Times

This story is part of a joint project by Oklahoma Watch and The Oklahoman, examining the state’s high rate of prescription painkiller overdoses.

If there were an official business model for a high-volume pain clinic, drug enforcers say, it would probably resemble the Wellness Clinic in Roland.

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Education
7:06 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

‘No Chance’ For Education Bond Proposal

Oklahoma State Department of Education

A proposal to create bond-financed trusts for Oklahoma’s common and higher education systems will likely face a difficult path in the legislature, said veteran legislators on both sides of the aisle. 

On Nov. 2, state Sen. Brian Crain called on the legislature to create two $2.5 billion, 30-year bond issues to “to secure permanent additional education funding.”

"While the investment will take about 30 years to pay off, the trusts that are created will be eternal," said Crain, R-Tulsa. "They will last as long as the state of Oklahoma."

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Oklahoma Watch
8:32 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Report: State Beset With Mental Illness, Lack of Treatment

Credit Kaiser Health News / Wikipedia Commons

Oklahoma is among five states that struggle the most with high rates of mental illness and a lack of access to treatment, according to a national report released Wednesday

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Oklahoma Watch
7:45 am
Tue December 2, 2014

In Oklahoma, Few Efforts To Measure Gambling Addiction

Calls to a national gambling helpline from Oklahoma show that most people struggling with gambling addiction cite slot machines as the main problem.
Oklahoma Watch

In fiscal 2013, a total of 1,838 Oklahomans called a national hotline seeking help related to compulsive gambling – a nearly 60 percent spike over the previous year.

Then, in 2014, the number of calls fell sharply to 1,310, according to HeartLine, an Oklahoma City call center that fields calls from Oklahomans to the National Problem Gambling Helpline (800-522-4700).

The sudden drop perplexes Danielle Harris, coordinator for HeartLine.

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Oklahoma News
5:45 am
Fri November 28, 2014

Where Oklahoma Ranks In Exonerations

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit journalism organization that produces in-depth and investigative content on a range of public-policy issues facing the state. For more Oklahoma Watch content, go to www.oklahomawatch.org.

During the past 25 years, Oklahoma has posted the 16th highest number of exonerations in the nation, compared with its ranking of between 25th and 30th in total population during that period.

Oklahoma had 28 exonerations, according to data that a research group collected from the National Registry of Exonerations.

In Oklahoma, there have been 28 exonerations: 13 for murder or manslaughter, 11 for sex crimes, two for robbery and two for other alleged crimes.  Seven of the exonerated were sentenced to death. Of those exonerated, 16 were Caucasian and 12 were Black. The average exonerated person lost 8.75 years of their life.

The interactive map below tracks the number of exonerations by state from 1989 through Oct. 20, 2014, as well as the amount of time that wrongfully convicted people have spent behind bars. The data also shows the number of exonerees who were on death row at the time of exoneration.

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Oklahoma Watch
9:47 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Q&A: Affordable Care Act, Round Two

401(K) 2012 Flickr

On Saturday, the federal government began accepting applications and renewals for individual health plans sold through its online insurance marketplace.

Open enrollment for 2015 coverage will continue until Monday, Feb. 15.

Here are answers to many key questions about buying insurance on the health-care exchange in Oklahoma.

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Oklahoma Watch
9:39 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Study: Nearly 44,000 Children In Oklahoma Are Homeless

Credit Stefan Neubig / Flickr

Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of child homelessness in the nation, and the number of homeless children has grown, according to a report released Monday.

Oklahoma ranks fifth worst among states in the percentage of children under 18 who are homeless, according to the American Institutes for Research, a nonpartisan research group based in Washington, D.C.

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Oklahoma Watch
7:36 am
Sat November 15, 2014

Affordable Care Act Enrollment Begins Saturday

Oklahoma Watch

Starting this weekend, an estimated 446,000 low-to-middle-income Oklahomans can sign up for government-subsidized health insurance for 2015 through the online marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act.

The 2015 open enrollment period begins Saturday, Nov. 15, and ends Sunday, Feb. 15. Federal officials and ACA advocates are encouraging people to complete their applications by Dec. 15 to avoid ensure their coverage begins on Jan. 1.

A recent national survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C., showed that 89 percent of uninsured people were not aware that open enrollment begins this month.

“It’s an unfortunate continuation of a trend that’s been going on for quite a while now,” Kaiser Foundation Senior Fellow Karen Politz said in a briefing with reporters. “People really aren’t that familiar with what’s in the ACA, whether it will help them, and what the rules are.”

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