We like the approach being taken by Marc Dreyer, chairman of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, on the issue of inmates being considered for early parole. The board's previous practice of not clearly indicating on its agendas which inmates were being considered for early parole or commutation resulted in a criminal investigation by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. Last month the board discussed changing its procedures. This week Dreyer said the board wouldn't make any changes for several months, in order to allow folks plenty of time to register their thoughts. That's a smart move. Citizens can take Dreyer up on his offer by emailing comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailing them to Tracy George, Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, First National Center, 120 N Robinson Ave. Suite 900W, Oklahoma City, 73102.
Counterterrorism? Not quite
A report this week by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, highlights questionable spending of federal anti-terrorism grants. Coburn's report would be funny if it weren't so infuriating, and it's not the least bit surprising. The Department of Homeland Security has distributed $7 billion in grants to state and local governments since 2003. Oklahoma got $32 million of that. The city of Tulsa, Coburn found, used some of its funding “to harden a county jail and purchase a color printer.” Keene, N.H., and other cities and towns bought armored vehicles. Columbus, Ohio, bought an underwater robot. Arizona installed a video monitoring system at a spring training sports complex. Illinois spent $45.6 million in grant funds to install security cameras in Chicago and Cook County — worthwhile, except that the project was abandoned without the cameras ever working. Coburn said it's Congress' duty “to ensure that this grant program does not become a parochial, pork-barrel entitlement program.” Good luck with that.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court this week struck down two state laws regulating abortion. One required that patients be allowed to review the pre-surgery ultrasound; the other required doctors to follow guidelines when prescribing abortion-inducing drugs. The rulings were largely substance-free and surprising — other courts upheld a similar ultrasound law in Texas and a similar drug law in Ohio. Our state Supreme Court is clearly taking a very expansive view of abortion rights that prevents regulatory oversight that's routine in other industries. Consequently, those seeking to reduce abortion must now focus on other approaches, such as providing tax breaks to offset the high cost of adoption and encourage it. Given the court's current leanings, future regulatory restrictions are unlikely to generate anything but legal bills. Those opposed to abortion should continue to wage the battle for hearts and minds, but the court's rulings require tactical adjustment.