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State briefs

Juvenile Affairs board OKs changes to construction project

The Oklahoma Board of Juvenile Affairs on Tuesday approved about $509,000 of change orders for a “Next Generation Campus” project.

Oklahoma has operated three secure facilities for juvenile offenders in recent years but plans to consolidate those operations in the refurbished Tecumseh campus. The new campus is being constructed on the grounds of the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center.

The change orders the board approved Tuesday are for making fire line changes to meet requirements by the city of Tecumseh, reconfiguring roof drains to eliminate a climbing hazard, constructing a parking lot and building an access road.

Also on Tuesday, the board elected Karen Youngblood of Oklahoma City as chairwoman and Sean Burrage of Norman as vice chairman. Youngblood is chief learning officer at One Agents Alliance. Burrage is vice president for executive affairs at the University of Oklahoma.

Stitt office touts criminal justice accomplishments

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed 774 commutations, 290 pardons and 101 paroles during his first year in office, his office announced Tuesday.

In November, Stitt signed off on what officials said was the largest single-day commutation in U.S. history, commuting the sentences of 523 nonviolent drug and property offenders who were eligible for an expedited commutation process under a recent law change. The move came as a culmination of a years-long criminal justice reform effort in the state.

“This has been a historic year for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma,” Stitt said in a statement Tuesday. “Under new leadership in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and at the Pardon and Parole Board, the Board’s favorable recommendations increased by 225% over last year. I applaud everyone’s hard work and thorough management of a significant increase in casework without needing additional funds."

During his first year in office, Stitt issued an executive order to tackle the issue of contraband cellphones in state prisons, worked with the Legislature to provide correctional officers with a $2 an hour pay increase and pass licensing reform legislation.

Stitt said in the statement Tuesday that his administration "remains committed to pursuing bold changes in criminal justice reform" during the next few years, including reforming the criminal code and changing the culture in state prisons.

Kirkpatrick Family Fund distributes $5.3 million

The Kirkpatrick Family Fund on Tuesday announced the distribution of $5.3 million in grants to 106 organizations for the first half of its fiscal year.The Kirkpatrick Family Fund supports charitable, civic and cultural causes that impact citizens in central Oklahoma and beyond.“This ongoing investment is possible because of our founders John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick,” said Liz Eickman, fund director. “Their philanthropic foresight continues to provide significant resources to address current issues that effect quality of life.”

Grants awarded by the Kirkpatrick Family Fund to organizations and projects in the first half of fiscal year 2020 include: Arts & Humanities, $2,674,000; Community Development, $1,526,500; Endowment Matching, $755,000; Social Services, $289,500; Education, $236,000; Children, Youth & Families, $228,000; Animal Welfare, $158,000; Health, $119,500; and Environment, $72,900.

Staff reports

Darla Slipke

Darla Slipke is an enterprise reporter for The Oklahoman. She is a native of Bristol, Conn., and a graduate of the University of Kansas. Slipke worked for newspapers in Kansas, Connecticut, North Carolina and Oklahoma, including a previous... Read more ›

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