October 26, 2010

SLC and Oklahoma Speaker-Elect Kris Steele

Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) Executive Director Colleen Cousineau and SLC Senior Fiscal Analyst Sujit CanagaRetna visited the Oklahoma State Capitol on October 25-26, 2010, to participate in a series of meetings set up by Oklahoma House Speaker-Elect Kris Steele related to criminal justice reform in the state.  The visit included briefings by Michael Thompson, Executive Director of The Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, to selected members of both the Oklahoma House (including Representative Lee Denney, a participant in CALS Class of 2010, the SLC’s leadership program) and Senate on the Justice Center’s work through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.  This Initiative, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Pew Charitable Trusts, combines various national policy initiatives in nearly a dozen states to increase public safety, reduce spending on corrections, and improve conditions in the neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return.  Along with meetings with Speaker-Elect Steele, SLC staff also met with Senator Brian Bingman and attended a press conference held by Speaker-Elect Steele to announce that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma had received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to fund the agency's Amachi program, which provides one-on-one mentoring for children whose parents are in prison.