This year’s Day at the legislature was filled to the brim with information, straight from the source. We heard from one of the top advocates for Criminal Justice Reform in the State of Oklahoma, Kris Steele, who outlined the breadth of the issue beautifully. And although the morning’s keynote was enlightening, it was also overwhelming.
Where do we begin? How do the necessary changes need to happen?
The follow up panel discussion helped guide some advocacy for us directly. We heard from Oklahoma County’s District Attorney David Prater directly about the pressure fines and fees place on his office and other DA’s across the state. We heard from Rep. Cyndi Munson about the State’s budget process and the need for individuals like us to call our Legislators to advocate for changes in the budget to help shift the system. Damion Shade and Nicole McAfee brought a wealth of knowledge from the world of policy and advocacy, and the conversation was informative and broad. I know I left knowing more about what to specifically ask my legislators and felt more empowered about advocacy going forward, I hope our participants did as well.
After a hearty lunch, where we filled the 4th floor rotunda with conversation and community building, we journeyed into different workshops. OEA President Alicia Priest, Vice President Katherine Bishop, and Legislative Specialist Ivy Riggs lead a powerful workshop on the State of Education in Oklahoma, helping us all know a little more about the current state of things after last session’s Teacher Walkout. And former Representative and Criminal Justice Reform Advocate Cory Williams visited more with participants about how to engage advocacy at the local level. Sabine Brown from Oklahoma Policy Institute additionally worked with participants to strengthen advocacy awareness and empower us to do the work.
It was a full day. It was a good day. As a faith community, I feel we are all better equipped to help address the issue of Oklahoma being 1st and 49th. Stay in touch with OCC as we continue to do the work.